Speculation Hurting Garcia’s Reputation
April 7, 2011 9:37 pm, CST

By: Justin Fabiano

Garcia is not getting any help from his school or the media, but him put himself in this position. Photo courtesy Icon Sport Media, Inc.

Here are the facts: USC Quarterback Stephen Garcia is suspended indefinitely. Word came down from USC Athletic Director Eric Hyman Wednesday evening in a statement. “Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes,” Hyman said in the release. “Therefore, he has forfeited the privilege to participate in any football-related activity until further notice.”

Garcia attended a ‘Mentors in Violence Prevention’ seminar Tuesday evening; a seminar the SEC mandated all its student-athletes to attend annually three years ago. “Stephen did not represent the University the way he needs to represent the university,” Hyman told WIS News 10 in Columbia Thursday. “He just didn’t handle himself the way we want student-athletes to handle themselves.”

“I’m sure you’ve got some investigators,” Head Coach Steve Spurrier said after practice Wednesday. “I’m sure you guys can investigate it out.”

Notice how neither Eric Hyman nor Steve Spurrier released details regarding Garcia’s latest suspension. That is not stopping speculation, however. Outlets are reporting Garcia was boisterous, belligerent, and possibly even drunk at the seminar Tuesday night.

“Multiple sources said Garcia was loud and disruptive Tuesday night at an on-campus leadership, life-skills-building event for some USC student-athletes. Garcia was asked to leave the function,” Charleston’s Post and Courier reported Thursday. The newspaper went on to say USC did not volunteer those details. Other outlets are reporting similar details.

Even ESPN is running with words from “multiple sources.”

“Garcia later admitted to Spurrier that he had been drinking prior to the event while celebrating teammate Kyle Nunn’s birthday, the sources said,” ESPN SEC reporter Chris Low wrote on his blog.

Spurrier has not confirmed Garcia’s alleged admittance.

The facts are: we do not know what happened at that seminar except Stephen Garcia “didn’t handle himself the way [USC] want[s] student-athletes to handle themselves.” The media speculation has caused fans to call for Garcia’s head. “Enough is enough send that bum back to Florida. And don’t get me wrong I’m no prude,” one WIS News 10 viewer wrote in regards to Garcia’s suspension. “I like to get drunk too, but there is a time and a place And if you don’t know when that is maybe you should hold off until you do.”

Albeit Garcia has not done much to help his reputation, this time, criticism is unfair. We do not know if he was drunk Tuesday, and we do not know for sure if he was drunk the night before the Chick-Fil-A bowl. Garcia is responsible for his actions, but the problem is, we do not know exactly what those actions are, were, or will be. To say Garcia has been given more than enough chances to play quarterback for the University of South Carolina is fine, but to criticize the player for being drunk all the time is not fair, and there are two parties to blame: the media and the University of South Carolina.

My father heard radio reports today that Garcia was not drunk at the seminar. While “multiple sources” say he was, Garcia denied to the Associated Press that his suspension was either drug or alcohol related. He is the only officially named source on the matter.

If Garcia was not drunk at the function, the university should clear that matter up because until they do, people will continue to believe Garcia was drinking and was belligerent to those in charge. It may or may not be true, but if it is not true, the university’s silence will only hurt his reputation further.

Garcia’s teammate and freshman wide receiver Ace Sanders is right.

“If you don’t know anything about the Stephen Garcia situation, then don’t speak on it,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

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