USC indefinitely suspends star quaterback Stephen Garcia from football team

Hyman: ‘Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes’

When Stephen Garcia spoke with reporters two weeks ago for the first time since his return from being suspended for the start of spring practice, South Carolina’s senior quarterback said all the right things.

“Nothing bad is going to happen again,” said Garcia on March 24, vowing he wouldn’t get in trouble again during his time in Columbia. “That’s a guarantee.”

Garcia apparently has not done all the right things, however.

The Lutz, Fla., native was suspended indefinitely from the USC football team Wednesday by Athletics Director Eric Hyman.

“Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right,” said Hyman in a release. “We have expectations for our student-athletes, and we make them aware that there are consequences for their actions.

Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes. Therefore, he has forfeited the privilege to participate in any football related activity until further notice.”

USC coach Steve Spurrier confirmed the suspension after practice Wednesday night, calling it a “university decision” that involved himself, Hyman and President Harris Pastides. Spurrier said Garcia will be barred from football activities for the remainder of the semester, and his status going forward “will be determined at a later date.”

“If he’s back, he’s back,” Spurrier said. “If he’s not back, it’s really the same thing as maybe a guy getting hurt, a guy going pro, or whatever. Players come and go. This instance should never have happened, but it did. This is where we are.”

The suspension reportedly stems from Garcia’s behavior at a Southeastern Conference-sponsored life skills seminar for student-athletes on Tuesday. Garcia allegedly arrived at the event smelling of alcohol and behaved inappropriately.

Garcia told The Associated Press that alcohol and drugs were not involved in the incident and that he was not arrested. He declined to elaborate further. Garcia reiterated those facts to WIS-TV in Columbia.

Spurrier declined to disclose the reason when asked and said he would not get into details when asked about Garcia’s claims in regards to alcohol.

The suspension is the fourth of Garcia’s career. All four have come during spring practice. Garcia was suspended for most of spring practice in 2007, all of spring drills in 2008 and the first week of practice this spring. Garcia’s suspension this past month was punishment for a violation of team rules in Atlanta prior to USC’s appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.

“Every single thing that I’ve done has been my fault,” said Garcia last month when discussing the incident in Atlanta. “I can’t blame anybody else at all.”

When asked if there is a limit on how many suspensions player can receive and remain in a program, Spurrier declined to answer.

Garcia has started 28 consecutive games for the Gamecocks, compiling a 17-13 career record. The team’s third all-time leader in passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns at USC, Garcia threw for 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns this past season. In Garcia’s absence, sophomore Connor Shaw will be elevated to starting quarterback. Shaw appeared in nine games last season, throwing for 223 total yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Spurrier said Shaw “did OK” in practice Wednesday with the first team.

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