NCAA to talk with Saunders again

Weslye Saunders stretches into the end zone for a touchdown against Clemson at Williams Brice Stadium last November. The Gamecocks' tight end will be meeting again with NCAA investigators.

COLUMBIA -- As its investigation into players' interactions with agents continues, the NCAA evidently isn't done with South Carolina and senior tight end Weslye Saunders.

As it already has with the principal players involved in North Carolina, multiple sources confirmed Tuesday that the NCAA had plans to speak with Saunders a second time. It's common that the governing body would follow up on initial inquiries.

The NCAA launched a fairly expansive probe into the relationship between agents and players at several Southern schools in early July. The investigation began at North Carolina, with star defensive lineman Marvin Austin, and then, by July 18, had extended to Saunders at South Carolina.

Saunders, who is from Durham, N.C., and Austin are friends.

USC athletic director Eric Hyman acknowledged that initial visit, saying the school would cooperate in whatever means necessary.

Names at Florida and Alabama surfaced soon after that, with sources saying it was just the beginning of the NCAA's magnifying glass into the issue.

The central event in all this is a spring break trip to Miami that several athletes, including Austin and Saunders, took.

The question is: Who paid for the trip? And is that the extent of what was taken, or were there other things or trips?

Saunders told Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier he didn't do anything wrong. That's what Spurrier said in late July at the SEC's media days.

ESPN reported Tuesday that North Carolina has said it will not play Austin or running back Greg Little until the NCAA has given a final ruling on the players.

Pressed a few times in the past week about that same subject, pertaining to Saunders, Spurrier has shrugged off the question. He has said several times that the team's reporters know as much as he does.

"If I knew," Spurrier said Tuesday, "I couldn't tell you."

A Yahoo Sports story, posted Monday, made a tie between agent Gary Wichard and UNC assistant John Blake. Spurrier was asked about Blake after the team's scrimmage Tuesday.

"We know the reputation of all the coaches out there," Spurrier said. "I guess what I would say is that article's not very surprising."

We all have a reputation, at least the guys who've coached 20 or so years. It's hard to hide whatever your reputation is."

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson revealed a couple of weeks ago, at Spurrier's golf outing, that the NCAA once talked to sophomore defenders Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman about their recruitment.

Johnson acted as if those inquiries were rather common, and nothing came of it of that specific one.

The NCAA, busy, has opened investigations in recent weeks -- at Miami, Tennessee and West Virginia -- about unrelated issues. It also visited Clemson in the past month.

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