Football

NCAA investigating tight end, Spurrier says

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The NCAA is investigating University of South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders about possible rules violations, Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier confirmed Sunday night.

It is believed the investigation of Saunders is connected to the NCAA's ongoing probe concerning North Carolina football players and agent activity. Saunders, a senior from Durham, N.C., has several friends on the Tar Heels team, including defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who is at the center of the UNC investigation.

Spurrier said he did not know specifically what the NCAA asked Saunders. But a source said NCAA officials are looking into whether agents paid for the airfare and hotel rooms for recent trips taken by Saunders and North Carolina players.

"All I know is they had talked to him, and talked to some players at North Carolina. That's all I know," Spurrier said. "Whatever comes (of it), we'll just have to wait and see. But I can assure that all of our players, our team, has been well-versed or taught about agents or people giving them gifts or money or whatever. ... So if we have a player that accepts money, gifts from agents or whoever, they'll be ineligible to play.

"We're not going to look the other way like possibly Southern California did. We're going to abide by the rules."

Spurrier said he had no knowledge Saunders had broken any rules.

"I'm not accusing Weslye of anything. He may be innocent. He may just know those (North Carolina) guys," Spurrier said. "But we'll just have to wait and see how it all comes out."

News of Saunders' meeting with an NCAA official broke Sunday afternoon, three days after reports of the UNC investigation surfaced.

Saunders, who met with the NCAA investigator last week in Columbia, had little comment when reached by The State newspaper on Sunday.

Asked whether he did anything wrong, Saunders said, "I can't say anything right now."

When Saunders was asked about last week's meeting with the NCAA, he told a reporter, "I'll have to give you a call back" and hung up. He did not return subsequent phone messages.

Saunders' voice mail directs agents or financial advisers to contact his father, Barry Saunders, a news columnist with the Raleigh News & Observer. Barry Saunders declined to comment when reached by phone Sunday.

In a statement released by South Carolina, Athletics Director Eric Hyman confirmed the NCAA has been in contact with the school about a possible violation in one of its programs.

The 6-foot-6, 273-pound Saunders was the Gamecocks' third-leading receiver last season with 32 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

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