College Sports

Spurrier unhappy with USC decisions

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier apologized to two recruits and then ripped USC's admission process Sunday, telling a crowd at the Gamecocks' media day festivities it needed to change or he wouldn't be around much longer.

"I'm embarassed that I and my coaches basically misled these young men into believing they were coming here," Spurrier said. "I'm not mad at the president and the provost.

"In my opinion, our school made a mistake in doing this."

What had the head ball coach spitting fire was the admission process of two freshmen recruits. Michael Bowman, a receiver from Wadesboro, N.C., and Arkee Smith, a defensive back from Jacksonville, Fla., were each denied admission to USC although each qualified under NCAA Clearinghouse criteria.

Two other signees, Antonio Allen and Eric Baker, did not have the necessary grades and are trying to find prep schools or junior colleges where they can enroll, build up their grades and perhaps come to USC in the future. But Smith and Bowman each passed the NCAA's minimum qualifying standards, only to be told by USC they couldn't get in.

Spurrier didn't blame USC President Andrew Sorensen and said he had already spoken with Sorensen about changing the admission guidelines. After receiving assurance that the process would be amended, Spurrier said it was a relief -- although it might be too late to mend the burned bridges in the Smith and Bowman cases.

"There's a perception out there that if South Carolina oversigns, they just get rid of the guy," Spurrier said. "That's not true.

"As long as I'm the coach here, we're going to take guys that qualify. If not, then I'm going to have to go somewhere else."

School spokesman Russ McKinney confirmed Sorensen and Spurrier have spoken, as recently as last week. McKinney also said Sorensen, Spurrier, athletics director Eric Hyman and others have weighed in on the process of student-athlete admission.

"What Dr. Sorensen is trying to see is if we can refine the process concerning student-athletes who need to go before the special admission process so that all of our coaches get kind of timely guidance and information kind of early in the process," McKinney said. "So that everything doesn't come out the week before school starts."

Spurrier reiterated he plans to be the Gamecocks' coach for a long time, because he believes USC can be a big-time football program. But the admission process must change, to reflect the honest rapport he's trying to build with his future players.

Smith was told this week he wouldn't be accepted after more than five months of believing he'd be in uniform. Bowman was told in July and has already made plans to attend East Carolina, where he'll play for former USC assistant coach Skip Holtz.

Spurrier got some help from USC when another bubble recruit, linebacker Melvin Ingram, was admitted earlier this week. The loss of Bowman and especially Smith, though, could hinder future recruiting.

Spurrier said he was dealing with the process of trying to repair the wounds in Anson County, N.C., where Bowman is from, and in Jacksonville, regarded as a hotbed of football talent. Spurrier signed Smith's First Coast High School teammate, defensive back Jamire Williams, for this season and already has a verbal commitment for next year from another First Coast player, linebacker Shaq Wilson.

Spurrier can't comment on unsigned recruits per NCAA rules, so he couldn't be asked if perhaps Wilson's commitment would change. But the message he presented was clear, before he said it was the end of the subject and he wouldn't address it again -- he feels Smith and Bowman were wronged, and if he were going to continue coaching the Gamecocks, the admission process must and will be changed.

"They've already told me they're going to change how we do admission here," Spurrier said, referring to Sorensen and the administration. "But I think we need to get it out to the high school coaches and the players out there that this is not going to happen again."