USF figured to have a relatively easy go of it for the opener, what with the Bulls facing an FCS program and all. Thanks to a handful of punitive measures. USF’s task got a little bit lot easier.
Late this past week, Western Carolina announced that a total of five players will be suspended for the opener against USF next Saturday in Tampa. Four of those suspensions are for what the school described as “violations of the department’s academic standards as it relates to class attendance, tutors and the Academic Enhancement Program or study hall.”
The suspended quartet consists of defensive back Bryson Jordan, defensive linemen Fred Mooring and Tahjai Watt, and wide receiver Seth Curtis. Mooring played in 11 games last season (one start and 18 tackles, 2.5 for loss) while Curtis had two receptions for 34.
Mooring, Watt and Curtis are listed as No. 2 at their respective positions on the Catamounts’ preseason depth chart, while Jordan wasn’t listed.
Additionally, and most importantly, starting wide receiver Karnorris Benson will serve a two-game suspension as it relates to the NCAA’s academic eligibility requirements. The suspension stems from issues that occurred during the 2013 fall semester.
Last year season, Benson led all Catamount players in receptions (51) receiving yards (832) and receiving touchdowns (12). The touchdown catches matched all-time single-season record.
“Last year, we initiated more rigid standards of attendance, punctuality and behavior as it related to our Academic Enhancement Program (AEP), which includes tutor sessions, study hall and classes. Unfortunately, some of our student-athletes did not take this seriously and they are now facing the consequences,” said athletic director Randy Eaton in a statement. “I want to make sure the young people within our Athletic department understand the meaning of ‘student-athlete,’ even if it is a difficult lesson for some of them.”
Western Carolina finished 2-10 last season, with three of those losses coming to FBS programs: Middle Tennessee State (45-24), Virginia Tech (45-3) and Auburn (62-3).