The NCAA's pan-Carolinian investigation into improper benefits for Tar Heel and Gamecock athletes has its first casualty: Athletic director Eric Hyman announced Wednesday that tight end Weslye Saunders has been dismissed from the South Carolina football program.
Despite Saunders' recent claims via social media that he'd been reinstated, this move is far from surprising, and wraps up a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances:
• July 19: Saunders is implicated in the improper-spring-break-benefits investigation that centered at the time around UNC's Marvin Austin.
• August 13: News emerges of a second NCAA investigation, also featuring Saunders, involving South Carolina football players living in an upscale hotel on the cheap.
• August 23: Saunders is held out of practice for what, at the time, are termed "personal reasons"; it is later learned that he's serving an indefinite suspension for lying to Steve Spurrier about being late for practice. He has yet to play a snap of football in the 2010 season.
Travis Haney of Charleston's Post and Courier reports that Saunders will apparently be allowed to retain his scholarship at South Carolina for academic purposes in order to complete his degree, and adds this ominous tidbit on the future of the NCAA's involvement with the Gamecock program (emphasis added):
The NCAA sent a letter of inquiry to the school last week, letting USC know it would be investigating the program for the foreseeable future.
As part of that, the NCAA will certainly look into its control and knowledge of Saunders’ alleged misdeeds.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for further updates on the North Carolina/South Carolina investigations. For more Gamecock news, visit SB Nation's Garnet and Black Attack.