College Sports

Garcia ticketed for underage drinking

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia looks to hand the ball off at spring practice Friday.
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia looks to hand the ball off at spring practice Friday.

Stephen Garcia, after being arrested twice within a month after first reporting to campus, spent the past year saying he'd learned his lesson.

He may have to re-enroll for some graduate studies.

The rising redshirt freshman quarterback had two brushes with the law three days ago, a day after South Carolina began spring practice. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier, who said after Garcia's first two arrests that one more slip-up would result in the player's dismissal, said after practice on Monday that Garcia's future was up to USC's disciplinary committee, which is handling the latest flap.

"Stephen Garcia's fate is in the hands of the University of South Carolina," Spurrier said in a statement. "He may be out here or he may not be out here. It's out of my hands."

The phenom was already set to miss one spring session as punishment for missing class. He said it was a mixup when he registered for a class and later dropped it. Garcia served that suspension on Monday.

He may be missing more until his case is settled.

Garcia, who is battling Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher for the starting quarterback job, was caught along with rising redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Heath Batchelor and rising sophomore walk-on QB Zac Brindise on March 22 outside the campus' East Quad dormitory. The trio was holding coolers of beer and charged with underage drinking.

The three were ticketed but not arrested. Garcia already paid the $257.50 fine and lost his driver's license for four months, although he still will be allowed to ride his scooter. His older brother, Gary Garcia, was written up for transferring beer to a minor.

Scarcely five hours later, according to a police report, Stephen Garcia was talking to authorities again after a fire alarm at East Quad. A fire extinguisher had been discharged and Garcia claimed responsibility, saying he saw sparks coming from the stove in his dorm room kitchen.

Garcia was not charged but the incident is under investigation.

"I'll accept whatever they say," Spurrier said. "He's had a lot of chances here and we'll see what happens."

A major coup coming out of Florida two years ago, Garcia was a large part of the Gamecocks' fourth-ranked recruiting class. A strong-armed dual athlete who was described as "the ultimate gunslinger" by some recruiting networks, Garcia reported to campus a year ago to participate in spring practice.

He never got on the field. He was arrested for public drunkenness within a month and less than three weeks later, again was hauled in after using a key to scratch the side of a professor's car.

The charges were lumped together and Garcia completed the state's pre-trial intervention program, although Spurrier suspended him for spring practice. He redshirted the 2007 season but was expected to challenge Smelley for the starting QB job this year.

"We've got Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley and we know they're always going to be here," Spurrier said. "They do everything we ask. They're wonderful kids and they can throw the ball.

"We'll worry about Stephen if he comes back out here. If the university wants him to be here, we'll give him another shot."