- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia was suspended indefinitely from the football program, less than two weeks after the quarterback guaranteed he would not get in trouble again.

Athletic director Eric Hyman announced the suspension Wednesday.

Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes,” he said. “Therefore, he has forfeited the privilege to participate in any football related activity until further notice.”

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the suspension would last through the spring semester and his status beyond that would be determined at a later date.

“If he’s back, he’s back. If he’s not back, it’s really the same thing as a guy getting hurt, a guy going pro or whatever,” Spurrier said. “Players come and go as we all know. This instance should have never happened, but it did. So this is where we are.”

Spurrier would not go into details of what caused Garcia’s fifth suspension _ and second this spring _ since he arrived on campus in January 2007. Spurrier said he, Hyman and University President Harris Pastides were involved in deciding what should be done with the Gamecocks most experienced quarterback.

Garcia would not discuss the reason for the latest suspension, saying only that it did not involve an arrest, nor was it drug or alcohol related.

“I don’t want to talk about it now,” he said told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview.

Last month, Garcia promised his problems were behind him. He pledged to be smarter in his life and avoid the mistakes he made in previous years. Garcia was suspended for the first week of spring football practice by Spurrier for violating undisclosed team rules during South Carolina’s trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“Nothing bad is going to happen again _ that’s guaranteed,” Garcia said on March 24.

Now that it has, Garcia’s future with the program is in jeopardy.

He helped the Gamecocks win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title and earn a trip to the league’s championship game last fall. Garcia leads all SEC returning quarterbacks in passing yards and was expected to form a formidable offensive trio along with tailback Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery.

Instead, South Carolina might have to call on backup Connor Shaw, a sophomore next season who threw just 33 times in nine appearances a year ago.

Garcia has struggled to stay out of trouble throughout his career. He came to South Carolina as a highly coveted prospect, yet was arrested twice his first two month at school.

A year later, Garcia was suspended a third time and prevented from working out with the team for more than four months.

Things had calmed for him off the field the next few years until this spring.

“Every single thing I’ve done has been my fault,” Garcia said last month.

South Carolina defensive back Stephon Gilmore said Garcia’s issues have not distracted the Gamecocks.

“Connor Shaw is backing him up and we have good players behind him,” Gilmore said. “We can’t focus on (Garcia), we have to focus on what we have now.”

Garcia admitted his relationship with South Carolina fans and Spurrier has been bumpy. Spurrier gave Garcia about a dozen suggestions on how to be a better quarterback and teammates. Top of that list was to cut his long hair, something Garcia immediately did.

Spurrier had praised Garcia’s focus this spring, but now sounds like a frustrated parent who can’t get his point across.

“We try to tell him to do the right thing, but like I said, when he gets out on his own, he’s going to do his own thing,” Spurrier said. “He’s a grown man and he has to take the consequences.”

The Gamecocks will play their spring game on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

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