USC sources: No great concern about NCAA investigation
COLUMBIA -- The NCAA sent South Carolina a letter indicating it is formally investigating the football program, but several school sources told The Post and Courier Thursday that there isn't great concern about the development.
There was no specificity in the letter regarding the nature of the inquiry, sources said.
The school, of course, isn't officially allowed to comment on in-progress NCAA investigations. It can only speak in general senses.
"It's the next step in the process," said Luanne Lawrence, South Carolina's vice president for communications.
The only thing football coach Steve Spurrier said specifically was that it is not related to anything his coaching staff did.
Generally, Spurrier said he views talking about the NCAA as the same as talking about officiating: both are out of bounds.
Asked after practice if he were concerned about the inquiry, Spurrier shrugged.
"No, I'm concerned with doing whatever I can to help our team beat Georgia," he said of Saturday's game between the No. 24 Gamecocks and No. 22 Bulldogs. "That's all I'm concerned about. That's all our players are concerned about."
South Carolina received the NCAA letter during the late afternoon hours Thursday.
It was addressed to USC president Harris Pastides and signed by NCAA vice president of enforcement David Price.
"I assure our fans and community that we will do what is right for the university," Pastides said in a statement, released by the school. "Winning and playing by the rules go hand in hand. And playing by the rules is the only way to win. We will continue to cooperate with the NCAA investigation as we have in the past regarding possible rules violations.
"While we are working in full cooperation with the NCAA, our expectations have always been that our student-athletes and staff maintain highest NCAA standards."
There is no timetable on the investigation.
"Could be weeks, could be months," Lawrence said. "We just don't know."
The NCAA first visited USC in July, to speak with senior tight end Weslye Saunders about an alleged spring break trip to Miami that was paid for by agents.
By August, the investigation had extended to several players, including Saunders, living at The Whitney Hotel.
Eight of those players -- all except Saunders and left tackle Jarriel King -- were cleared just before last week's kickoff against Southern Miss.
In addition, senior cornerback Chris Culliver missed last week's game. The NCAA was investigating an insurance policy Culliver took out to protect his draft status against injury.
Culliver was cleared Thursday night and will play Saturday against the Bulldogs. King's status is still unclear.
Neither WLB Shaq Wilson nor spur Antonio Allen (hamstrings) are expected to play Saturday against Georgia, defensive assistant Shane Beamer said. There's a slight chance for Allen, he added. Wilson is officially out. He's watched practice this week in street clothes.