NCAA investigating South Carolina

Updated: September 10, 2010, 12:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina received formal notification Thursday that the NCAA is investigating its football program.

The letter of inquiry doesn't specify any potential violations but could signal weeks or months of uncertainty for the team.

The NCAA has questioned South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders about an agent-hosted party in Miami. Saunders and starting left tackle Jarriel King were among several players asked to move out of a Columbia hotel after questions were raised over unpaid bills and the rates the players were being charged.

After practice Thursday, Spurrier had to confirm with an athletic spokesman the school had received the letter and then said he had no comment on the investigation.

"I'm concerned about trying to do whatever I can to help our team beat Georgia," Spurrier said. "That's all I am concerned about, that's all the players are concerned about."

Saunders has been suspended indefinitely from the team since last month for reasons Spurrier said were unrelated to the NCAA probe.

King and first-team cornerback Chris Culliver missed the No. 24 Gamecocks' opener against Southern Mississippi because the NCAA had not ruled on their eligibility.

Spurrier said Thursday the team still hasn't heard if the pair will be eligible for Saturday's game against No. 22 Georgia.

On Friday, Culliver was cleared to play against the Bulldogs, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

King's status remained unknown.

Georgia will be without star receiver A.J. Green, who was suspended Wednesday for four games for selling his bowl jersey for $1,000.

The NCAA investigation is something new for Spurrier, whose teams have never faced major trouble in his 20 years at Duke, Florida or South Carolina.

"It is the first time in my coaching career that we have had sort of these kinds of issues. I realize now how they can happen," Spurrier said last week. "As coaches, we've all done the same things we've always done throughout the summer, but all of the sudden, some things happen."

The university will cooperate fully with the NCAA, president Harris Pastides said.

"I assure our fans and community that we will do what is right for the university. Winning and playing by the rules go hand in hand. And playing by the rules is the only way to win," Pastidies said in a statement.

South Carolina was placed on three years of probation in 2005 for five major and five minor violations under coach Lou Holtz.

Holtz was named only in a secondary violation, accused of talking to two prospects with a media member present.

The major violations included a senior associate athletic director arranging for impermissible tutoring during the summer. The NCAA said the administrator, Tom Perry, also allowed the school's compliance director to knowingly submit an inaccurate summary of the tutoring to the NCAA and discouraged others on his staff from reporting possible rules violations.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.