COLUMBIA — Will Muschamp wants Marcus Lattimore to be part of the football program at South Carolina. But the head coach won’t be able to add the Gamecocks great to his staff.
Muschamp confirmed Tuesday that Lattimore, USC’s career leader in touchdowns, can’t be part of the staff due to the former running back’s ties to his foundation, which works with recruitable athletes. Muschamp had originally planned to add Lattimore in an off-field role to advise players in matters other than football.
“Marcus is going to stay with his foundation, which I totally respect and applaud him for what he’s doing for young people in the state of South Carolina,” Muschamp said at the unveiling of a tour bus to be used for Gamecock Club stops around the state this spring.
“He’s a Gamecock, he’s always going to be a Gamecock. He’s going to be very involved with our program. Unfortunately, we can’t pay him because of the conflict with NCAA rules, and we totally understand NCAA rules. We’re going to abide by NCAA rules at South Carolina.”
Lattimore, one of the most beloved athletes in USC history, rushed for 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns in a career cut short by knee injuries. Upon his graduation in May, Lattimore was to join Muschamp’s staff as a life-skills coach, advising players on matters ranging from balancing a checkbook to drug addiction.
But Lattimore’s involvement with his foundation, which conducts youth camps and has a sports performance aspect, meant such an arrangement would have run afoul of NCAA rules.
“I didn’t know the extent he was involved in his foundation,” Muschamp said. “Obviously when you’re benefitting student-athletes and you’re working for a university, that is not compliant with NCAA rules. Our compliance people did an outstanding job of trying to present a situation, but it just is what it is. It’s unfortunate. It hurts Marcus, because he loves South Carolina. But he also loves positively affecting the people around him.”
Muschamp originally planned to pair Lattimore with another former USC player, Andre Goodman, in a life skills program similar to one had at Florida, where he was head coach from 2011-14. Goodman will be retained, Muschamp said, adding “I am going to continue to explore hiring more people in that area for our players.”
Also, Muschamp and his staff conducted post-spring practice exit interviews with players last week, and as of Tuesday he was unaware of any recent decisions to transfer out of the program. Seven players have departed USC since Muschamp was hired to replace Steve Spurrier.
“The coach-player relationship is a two-way street, and I think sometimes you’ve got to be able to give and take a little bit, and you’ve got to be very candidly honest, which I am,” he said. “Brutally honest, at times, to tell a young man exactly where he is in the program, what does he need to do to be successful for us. Those are the types of conversations we’ve had in the last week.”
Meanwhile, Muschamp will be accompanied by a “Boom Bus” on his tour of Gamecock Clubs around South Carolina, beginning Wednesday at Williams-Brice Stadium. The motorcoach was loaned to USC by supporter Reamer King, who operates a Cadillac dealership in Florence. The graphics, which include a pointing Muschamp and the “Spurs Up” hashtag, were supplied by supporter Roger Huskey of Gaffney.
“I’m trying to figure out what I’m pointing at,” said Muschamp, who will visit Alhambra Hall in Mount Pleasant on May 24. “Probably (the SEC championship game in) Atlanta, because that’s where we’re headed.”