South Carolina recruit Garcia may enter counseling

Updated: March 14, 2007, 11:55 AM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina recruit Stephen Garcia applied Wednesday to enter a counseling and community service program rather than face prosecution for two misdemeanor charges.

Garcia, a highly touted quarterback, was arrested Feb. 17 on charges of drunkenness and failure to stop for a police officer during an incident outside a club.

Two weeks later, he turned himself in on charges of malicious injury to personal property. Arrest warrants said Garcia scratched professor Adam Biggs' car with a key and caused more than $800 in damage.

Biggs wanted Garcia, 19, to express remorse before the judge allowed him to apply for a pretrial intervention program. "I apologize," Garcia told Biggs in the courtroom.

Garcia's attorney Neal Lourie said police dropped the failure to stop for an officer charge as part of an agreement.

The prosecutor's office will decide whether to accept Garcia into the program and its specific requirements, but part of it will be making restitution to Biggs, Lourie said. The program allows first-time offenders to wipe their records clean if they complete counseling and community service.

Garcia and Biggs declined comment as they left the courthouse.

Garcia's father, Gary, said, "We support our kid."

Garcia met with Biggs before the court proceeding and admitted he keyed his car. "He has true remorse," Lourie said. "He's taken full responsibility. He's sorry for what he's done."

Garcia previously issued a statement apologizing to the professor, coach Steve Spurrier, his teammates and fans.

Following his latest arrest, Garcia was suspended from spring practice and all team activities this semester.

Garcia, from Jefferson High in Tampa, Fla., was the centerpiece of Spurrier's latest recruiting class, ranked among the top 10 in the country by many analysts.

He arrived at the university in January after graduating high school early to get a jump on learning Spurrier's offense.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press