AgentGate Takes Another Turn at South Carolina: Hotel Rooms

Just when South Carolina fans thought it was safe to start reading the sports section again.

The NCAA is investigating the living arrangements of several South Carolina football players at a Columbia hotel, according to two sources close to the situation.

Investigators in town this week have questioned players about staying at the Whitney Hotel, a seven-story property located along the Devine Street shopping corridor in the Shandon area. ...

The players have been living in the Whitney for several months, according to two sources. If the NCAA determines they received a rate lower than what is available to the general public, it could be ruled an extra benefit.

The players include Weslye Saunders -- of course -- who cannot possibly survive this with his eligibility intact if even half of what's been reported is true; Jarriel King, who was expected to protect Stephen Garcia's blind side this year (whether that is a major loss depends on whether Shawn Elliott is a miracle worker); and Travian Robertson, who was likely to start at defensive tackle but didn't play in the last nine games last year. So in the category for "Fallout," go ahead and write "unclear."

There's a potential caveat here, in that South Carolina has turned to local hotels in the past when it's run out of room at dorms, even for students who aren't athletes. But this hotel seems a bit nice for that to be very likely, no?

Part of me is sick of this, and not just because it involves South Carolina, but because it's time for this to stop. It's time for agents who are so self-centered that they will destroy everything in their path to make a few extra bucks to be banned from the profession -- permanently. It's time for players who view their teams as nothing else than self-promotional tools to be drummed out of the sport. And it's time for the NCAA to actually do something about the incentives that allow this to take place. End it somehow.

Part of me, though, is the slightest bit hopeful that something good might come of this. It's obviously time to clean up the sport, but to do so in a real and lasting way.

Lower the hammer on everyone involved. But then fix the problems that got us here in the first place. Or stop wasting our time.

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