COLUMBIA -- South Carolina's athletic director acknowledged Sunday that the NCAA is investigating a possible rules violation at the school.

Prior to Eric Hyman's released statement, which did not indicate the team being investigated, multiple sources had confirmed that the NCAA had spoken with senior tight end Weslye Saunders about his potential involvement with an agent.

Saunders, from Durham, N.C., is friends with North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin, who is at the heart of an NCAA probe regarding inappropriate contact with an agent. Austin reportedly received improper benefits.

It's unclear at this time whether Saunders is in trouble, or if the NCAA was inquiring solely about Austin.

In either case, it reached the point where Hyman felt the need to say something.

"The NCAA has been in contact with us regarding a possible rules violation in one of our programs," Hyman said in the release. "We have and will continue to cooperate fully with their inquiry. We have confidence in our compliance program and will work with the NCAA to bring this matter to a resolution in a timely fashion."

Saunders has been in and out of the coaches' doghouse on a pretty regular basis in his roller-coaster career.

Most recently, he was suspended for a week in January, during winter workouts, for violating the team's conduct policy. Coach Steve Spurrier has regularly kept Saunders from speaking with reporters, including an occasion last fall when Saunders bragged about dances he would break out after scoring a touchdown.

Saunders caught 32 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns last season. Some consider him one of the top returning tight end prospects in college football, though his coaches have long contended that Saunders' attitude and ability to block need to improve dramatically if he wants to play professionally.

Sources inside the program have said that Saunders has seemed to take things much more seriously this year, recognizing he needs a good season to continue his career after college. Saunders does appear to be in the best physical shape he's been in since arriving at USC -- a fact he typically espouses about on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The Gamecocks plan to employ a lot of two-tight end sets in their offense this fall, but that might sometimes not even include Saunders. Justice Cunningham and Pat DiMarco, a converted fullback, are better blockers when the play is a designed run.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com, check out the Gamecocks blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/gamecocks and follow him on Twitter (@gamecocksblog).