College Sports

USC reinstates Cook; Spurrier says he will, too

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina starting strong safety Emanuel Cook, arrested last week on a gun charge, has been reinstated to the university, clearing the way for the sophomore to return to the team.

Cook was prohibited from taking classes and living in campus housing following his arrest on Thursday. But the university's judicial affairs office lifted Cook's suspension during a Tuesday hearing.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Cook would be reinstated to the team, as well. USC's policy for athletes charged with crimes states they are suspended until their cases are resolved or athletics director Eric Hyman lifts the suspension.

Hyman said officials would work through that process, according to USC sports information director Steve Fink.

Cook, a sophomore from Riviera Beach, Fla., is out indefinitely after undergoing an appendectomy Sunday. He was released from Palmetto Richland on Monday.

Spurrier said Cook faces a few requirements from the university but did not elaborate.

"We certainly are very happy he's back with us," Spurrier said. "His appendicitis will keep him out probably two weeks. So he probably won't play for a couple (weeks)."

Spurrier said he would consider redshirting Cook if he is not recovered by midseason.

In a statement released through his attorney, Lowell Bernstein, Cook said he appreciated officials' "fair and expeditious handling" of his case.

"I understand the seriousness of the charge made against me and believe the actions taken by the University were reasonable and appropriate in this situation," Cook said. "I want to apologize to the entire University community, the football team and staff, and my family and friends for the negative attention, which my actions may have brought.

"I am excited to continue my educational pursuits, and assure you I will have a positive impact on the University in the future. I would like to thank you for your support during this difficult period in my life."

Cook, 19, was charged with unlawful possession of a pistol by a person under 21 last Thursday after campus police spotted him and another student with a gun outside a dorm. His first court appearance is next month on the felony charge, punishable by a maximum five years in prison and $2,000 fine.

Bernstein said the gun belonged to the other student, James Edward Gore of Chester.

"We all learned a lot in the Emanuel Cook incident with the gun. I think our players all know now, they should know, if you see a pistol, you need to go the other direction as fast as you can," Spurrier said. "Don't touch it. That's a no-no. It's a good rule and hopefully we all learn from what happened last week."

The 5-foot-10, 211-pound Cook appeared in 10 games as a freshman, including five starts. He had 40 solo tackles and 47 total stops, which tied for third among USC defenders. With Cook out, Brandon Isaac has shifted from free safety to strong safety and cornerback Stoney Woodson has moved to free safety.