Spurrier: Garcia has changed

Stephen Garcia

David Goldman

DARLINGTON -- During the past couple of weeks, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has gotten closer and closer to saying that suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia will be reinstated. Wednesday's final Gamecock Club Fan Fest stop at Darlington Raceway was yet another step in that direction, with Spurrier even chiming in with his own thought.

"It seems like he's changed his ways," Spurrier said of Garcia, suspended in early April for mouthing off during and drinking before an SEC-mandated violence prevention seminar. "I hope the university lets him back on the team."

A partial reinstatement is expected early next week, in time for summer classes and workouts.

Spurrier will have a say, in addition to USC president Harris Pastides and athletic director Eric Hyman. The most recent suspension came from Hyman's desk, since it was a non-football-related matter.

Spurrier added Wednesday that Garcia "should" be allowed to work out starting next week, though that does not necessarily clear him for the fall. That statement goes along with what Spurrier said May 16 in Charleston, that Garcia would be placed on some sort of "probation."

He still has a list of requirements, established by the university, to complete and maintain. He also is subject to the clearance of medical professionals who are overseeing Garcia's alcohol abuse treatment program, part of the school's requirements for a return.

Garcia, 23, has been suspended five times in his USC career. The first three were related to run-ins with the law, including two misdemeanor arrests his first semester on campus. Since a 2008 ticket for having alcohol on campus, Garcia has stayed away from criminal matters. Instead, the most recent infractions have been team-rules issues.

Since the April suspension, he has been working to do what he has to do to return to the team. That includes completing his classwork to earn his sociology degree, which he did May 7. He met with Spurrier just after his graduation ceremony, setting the wheels in motion for a return.

Garcia has been intent in repeatedly saying he wants to return to USC for his fifth and final season, because he believes the Gamecocks have a good chance to win the SEC title.