Spurrier suspends Geathers after arrest
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It had been a quiet offseason for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina -- until this past weekend, when some of the same off-the-field troubles the Gamecocks have dealt with in past years sprang up again.
On Monday, Spurrier suspended starting defensive end Clifton Geathers following his Sunday morning arrest by Columbia police for fighting outside a nightclub. Geathers was charged with public drunkenness, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police spokesman Brick Lewis said.
Spurrier was disappointed in Geathers arrest. But thought it was out of character for the junior from Georgetown, who is the brother of Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers Jr. and the nephew of former NFL standout Jumpy Geathers.
"He got himself in a bad situation," Spurrier said. "So I don't know all the facts and how it occurred. But certainly he was wrong. We'll see what the legal system says and go from there."
Spurrier also talked with one of his promising freshman, tailback Jarvis Giles, who was involved in an early-morning dispute with a woman in dorm lobby Sunday.
Security called campus police, and Giles and his companion told authorities it was a misunderstanding, university spokeswoman Margaret Lamb said.
No arrests were made, and Lamb said police are still investigating.
Spurrier said any punishment for Giles would be handled within the team.
Spurrier said there had been a curfew in place for South Carolina players, although he admitted it was not as well explained as it should have been. He imposed what he called a "forever curfew" of 2 a.m. "Please call if you see a football player on the streets after 2 a.m.," he said.
For Spurrier, the incidents were jarring for a team the coach has praised for its upgraded attitude and attention to detail.
Spurrier pointed to Giles and two other freshmen, Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman, who enrolled in January, excelled in class, and put pressure on older players to step up their games or get left behind. "We haven't had that before," Spurrier said last month.
What Spurrier has had the past two seasons is his share of headaches away from the field.
This year's starting quarterback, Stephen Garcia, entered the past two seasons off lengthy suspensions because of three run-ins with the law. Between the end of the 2007 season and September 2008, the Gamecocks had eight players suspended.
South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman and other administrators fought bad behavior through mandatory seminars for first-year athletes like Giles, where prosecutors, judges, attorneys and police discussed consequences for poor decisions and illegal actions.
Those efforts seemed to make a difference this offseason, with only defensive lineman Ladi Ajiboye and defensive back C.C. Whitlock suspended after arrests. Ajiboye entered a diversion program after his marijuana arrest and faces a three-game suspension. Whitlock was accused of trespassing at a club, a charge he was found not guilty of by a magistrate judge.
Columbia police say Geathers kept swinging his arms and pulling away while officers tried to restrain him. The player had a strong odor of alcohol on him and slurred his speech, according to the police report. Geathers was detained for about seven hours Sunday before he was released on bond.
Lewis did not know if Geathers had an attorney.
With Ajiboye already out, losing Geathers for the Sept. 3 opener at North Carolina State -- and perhaps Sept. 12 at Georgia -- would leave the Gamecocks short-handed on the line, an expected strength for South Carolina this season. Should Geathers miss time, Spurrier said 232-pound redshirt freshman Devin Taylor would get a shot to play.
Taylor said players were shocked when they learned of Geathers' arrest. However, Spurrier and defensive line Brad Lawing "told us all we've got to step up," Taylor said.
The 5-foot-11 Giles, a former Tennessee commitment, figures to add a potential home-run hitter to a running attack that finished last in the SEC a year ago.
Spurrier had said last month that his five new assistants and a new strength coach had built a stronger commitment with players. That, he said, led to fewer non-football problems.
"Well, when players do what they're expected to do, you don't have many off the field situations," the coach said.
Now, Spurrier's back reminding his players to stay away from bad situations -- as he has too often in years past.
"It's embarrassing to all of us, the whole program," Spurrier said. "But we'll live it down. It's not going to dampen our spirits."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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