Garcia, who had been suspended and brought back to the team five previous times, was dismissed Tuesday for failing an alcohol test, a person familiar with the decision said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because South Carolina had not announced specifically why Garcia had been kicked off the team.
The person told the AP Garcia had agreed to undergo periodic tests for the presence of any alcohol as a condition of his reinstatement.
Athletic director Eric Hyman would only say that Garcia was released after the fifth-year senior failed to meet agreed-upon guidelines.
“Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right and we remind all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions,” Hyman said in a statement.
Garcia told The AP in a text message Tuesday that he was “shocked and completely flabbergasted to be honest” by the dismissal. He said he would have a full statement later in the week.
Garcia was suspended from all team activities in April for unacceptable conduct at a life-skills seminar. He was conditionally approved to workout with teammates in May, then reinstated fully last August just before football camp began.
Hyman and coach Steve Spurrier said then Garcia had to live up to several regulations to keep his spot in the program.
“Unfortunately,” Hyman continued, Garcia “has not been able to abide by those guidelines and therefore forfeited his position on the roster.”
Garcia started 34 games, including four this season, for the Gamecocks since arriving on campus in January 2007. He was demoted to second string behind sophomore Connor Shaw on Oct. 3 by Spurrier for inconsistent play and did not take part in a 54-3 blowout of Kentucky last Saturday.
Spurrier was asked earlier Tuesday whether Garcia would be Shaw’s backup when the Gamecocks travel to Mississippi State on Saturday.
“We’ll see how all that works out this week,” Spurrier said.
About an hour later, Garcia was gone.
Garcia threw for 3,059 yards and 20 TDs a year ago as the Gamecock played in their first SEC title game.
His numbers, however, did not match those he put up a season ago. His completion percentage fell from more than 64 in 2010 to less than 52 this fall. He had nine interceptions and just four touchdown passes when Spurrier sat him following South Carolina’s only loss, 16-13 to Auburn on Oct. 1.
Spurrier said he was sad that Garcia’s career ended this way.
‘’We all feel like we’ve given Stephen numerous opportunities to be a student-athlete here at South Carolina. Obviously, he has chosen not to follow the guidelines of his reinstatement contract,” Spurrier said in a statement. “We wish him the best.”