College Sports

Rock Hill's Lanning cleared to play in Outback Bowl

COLUMBIA -- Spencer Lanning is headed to Tampa after all.

South Carolina's starting punter won his eligibility appeal and will make the trip to the Outback Bowl. Lanning initially was ruled ineligible because he failed to pass six credit hours for his economics major this semester.

But an appeal was successful, media relations director Steve Fink said Tuesday.

Lanning, a redshirt sophomore from Rock Hill who played his high school football at York Comprehensive High School, has performed well in his first season as USC's starting punter. He averaged 42 yards per punt, with 13 of his 46 attempts being downed inside the 20.

Secondary violations

USC released a list of 11 secondary NCAA violations for the span between June and December.

Five were more serious Level I violations and were reported to the NCAA. All the violations were sent to the SEC.

Two of the Level I violations involved a coach sending a text message to a potential recruit, a practice that the NCAA outlawed a couple years ago. A men's track coach and a women's basketball coach sent the messages.

In another instance, a track athlete was not notified that his scholarship was being reduced before the July 1 deadline. The athlete is still on the team, according to Fink.

Two of the Level II violations involved closed basketball scrimmages, which the NCAA prevents the team or athletics department from publicizing. A women's coach was cited for publicizing her team's exhibition game, and an athletics department staff member was cited for talking about a men's scrimmage.

USC also announced that it conducted 661 drug tests on athletes, resulting in five positive marijuana tests and one for alcohol. The punishment for positive marijuana tests varies, depending on how many previous positives an athlete has.

USC signs two LBs

USC has signed two junior college linebackers to National Letters of Intent. Tony Straughter and Josh Dickerson, both from Georgia Military College, will join the Gamecocks in January.

Straughter, a 6-0, 215-pound outside linebacker, is a four-star prospect and considered the 10th-best junior college player in the country by Rivals.com. Straughter is from Madison, Fla.

Dickerson, a 6-2, 220 outside linebacker, also is a four-star prospect by Rivals.com and considered the 40th-best JUCO prospect in the country. He attended Camden County High in Kingsland, Ga.

Hyman proposes freeze

After hiking some costs for season-ticket buyers, USC doesn't want its Gamecock Club members to pay more.

Athletics director Eric Hyman says holding club membership prices at their 2008 levels instead of increasing them next year is a way for the athletics department to help fans as they deal with tough economic times.

The school already has imposed some new ticket fees for baseball and football season tickets.

The Gamecock Club has more than 12,000 members. It annually raises more than $14 million for South Carolina scholarships.

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