COLUMBIA – As expected, and as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had hinted for weeks, suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia this morning was partially reinstated to the team. That news came courtesy of an official release from USC during the mid-morning hours of a national holiday.
As he said last month in Charleston, Garcia is returning on a “probationary basis” and will still need to be fully reinstated by the school before the season begins. The point of today’s release is that he is eligible to participate with his teammates in voluntary summer workouts, which begin Wednesday.
“Stephen ... still has to do some things here for the next two or three months to prove himself worthy of being a student-athlete at South Carolina,” Spurrier said in the release. “We will give him another chance and hopefully he can do the right things and represent the university in a first-class manner.”
The 23-year-old senior has been suspended five times in his career, the most recent coming April 6, after he mouthed off during and admitted to drinking before an SEC-mandated violence prevention seminar.
Last week, Spurrier said he was hopeful the university would give him another chance, but it was Spurrier’s voice initially heard in today’s release. The initial suspension came from athletic director Eric Hyman’s desk. Hyman also weighed in today, at length.
“Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right,” Hyman said. “We explain to all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions. Our main goal for Stephen at this time is to assist him in developing the decision-making skills that are needed for managing life in general, whether as a student-athlete, a person, an employee, a spouse or a parent.”
Garcia has a 3-1/2-year-old son named Memphys.
“With assistance from others, we have developed a list of measurable guidelines for Stephen to follow,” Hyman said. “I want to make it clear those guidelines, which will remain confidential, are designed to help him live a successful life and are not some trivial hoops for him to jump through in order to find a way to reinstate him.
“The ball clearly rests in Stephen Garcia’s hands.”
Garcia, who has started 28 consecutive games for USC and has 17 wins as a starter, currently sits third on the school’s all-time passing list, with 6,753 yards.
Preseason camp begins Aug. 3, and the season opener against East Carolina is in Charlotte on Sept. 3.