Aug. 24, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -It had been a quiet offseason for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina - until this past weekend, when some of the same off-the-field troubles the Gamecocks have dealt with in past years sprang up again.

On Monday, Spurrier suspended starting defensive end Clifton Geathers following his Sunday morning arrest by Columbia police for fighting outside a nightclub. Geathers was charged with public drunkeness, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police spokesman Brick Lewis said.

"We are disappointed in the actions of Clifton Geathers the other night," Spurrier said in a statement. "He has been suspended indefinitely from the team until all the facts come in."

One of Spurrier's most promising freshman, tailback Jarvis Giles, also was involved in a dispute Sunday with a woman in a dorm lobby. Security called campus police, and Giles and his companion told authorities it was a misunderstanding, university spokeswoman Margaret Lamb said.

No arrests were made, and Lamb said police are still investigating.

Spurrier was aware of Giles' situation, but has not yet addressed it, athletic spokesman Steve Fink said. Still, it was a jarring double-body blow for a team Spurrier has praised for its upgraded attitude and attention to the things it takes to succeed in the SEC.

Spurrier pointed to Giles and two other freshmen, Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman, who enrolled in January, excelled in class, and put pressure on older players to step up their games or get left behind. "We haven't had that before," Spurrier said last month.

What Spurrier has had the past two seasons is his share of headaches away from the field.

This year's starting quarterback, Stephen Garcia, entered the past two seasons off lengthy suspensions because of three run-ins with the law. Between the end of the 2007 season and September 2008, the Gamecocks had eight players suspended.

South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman and other administrators fought bad behavior through mandatory seminars for first-year athletes like Giles, where prosecutors, judges, attorneys and police discussed consequences for poor decisions and illegal actions.

Those efforts seemed to make a difference this offseason, with only defensive lineman Ladi Ajiboye and defensive back C.C. Whitlock suspended after arrests. Ajiboye entered a diversion program after his marijuana arrest and faces a three-game suspension. Whitlock was accused of trespassing at a club, a charge he was found not guilty of by a magistrate judge.

With Ajiboye already out, losing Geathers for the Sept. 3 opener at North Carolina State - and perhaps Sept. 12 at Georgia - would leave the Gamecocks short-handed on the line, an expected strength for South Carolina this season.

The 5-foot-11 Giles, a former Tennessee commitment, figures to add a potential home-run hitter to a running attack that finished last in the SEC a year ago.

Spurrier had said last month that his five new assistants and a new strength coach had built a stronger commitment with players. That, he said, led to fewer non-football problems.

"Well, when players do what they're expected to do, you don't have many off the field situations," the coach said.