Johnson Hagood Stadium (copy)

Twenty-six Citadel football players are among the athletes facing suspension for improper bookstore purchases. 

The Citadel says 33 of its student-athletes will have to serve suspensions from athletic contests after making purchases at the campus bookstore deemed improper by the NCAA.

Four additional student-athletes will have to repay the amount of their purchases but won't be suspended, the school said.

The 37 athletes involved include 30 football players, two from basketball and athletes from tennis (one), soccer (two), baseball (one) and volleyball (one).

The violations involved full-scholarship athletes using funds meant to pay for books, haircuts and uniforms to purchase electronics and other not-allowed items from the campus bookstore. Student-athletes are briefed each year on rules regarding proper use of scholarship money, athletic director Mike Capaccio said.

On Feb. 24, the military school identified NCAA compliance violations involving the bookstore purchases of two student-athletes, and immediately reported those to the NCAA, according to Capaccio. 

Further investigation revealed cases involving 35 more student-athletes, he said, and those also were immediately reported.

As a result, 33 athletes will serve a 10 percent "withholding of competition" suspension. 

"Holding ourselves to the highest standards of compliance with NCAA, SoCon and institutional rules is a top priority for our department," Capaccio said "Working in concert with other departments on campus, we are well along in reestablishing, and strengthening, systems to prevent such problems going forward."

The Citadel had what a spokesman called a "fail-safe" system that would prevent unauthorized purchases using scholarship funds. In a transition this year to a new bookstore vendor and new student ID and purchasing cards, that system did not work.

"We are correcting those problems," Capaccio said.

The Citadel said it is working with the NCAA to determine potential penalties and reinstatement of eligibility.

Two basketball players, Brent Davis and Jerry Higgins, were suspended for The Citadel's Southern Conference Tournament game on March 5 against Western Carolina.

Four football players — Anthony Diaz, Jaloveon Lagroon, Andrew Lewis and Sam Llewellyn — will be suspended for the March 6 football game against Chattanooga. School spokesman Col. John Dorrian said the school plans to have four football players serve their suspension each week until all are served.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC