South Carolina freshman wide receiver Damiere Byrd was suspended four games by the NCAA because of benefits he received from the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation. Byrd will also have to repay those benefits before he's eligible to play. Byrd, who already sat out the Gamecocks' season opener, will also miss games against Georgia, Navy and Vanderbilt.
"While we respect the process, we are very disappointed for Damiere," said Athletics Director Eric Hyman. "Damiere is an outstanding individual and has been upfront with us as to what occurred during the recruiting process. He had no idea that being part of the Student Athlete Mentoring (SAM) Foundation would in any way affect his college eligibility. We continue to support him and will carefully consider appealing this decision."
SAM is an organization that helps under-privileged youths get scholarships and raise their grades. SAM's president, former high school football coach Steve Gordon, has said that it helps pay for students to go on unofficial school visits and paying for their entry into summer camps.
In a similar incident, Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd was suspended two games after receiving benefits from SAM. Floyd had used $2,500 he received for living expenses, transportation and other expenses. His suspension was reduced from four games because of the "personal hardship that led to the impermissible benefits."