August 13, 2010
The longer it goes, the more the NCAA's winding investigation into agent-related activity across the Southeast resembles a season-long arc in some earnest cop show. It would star Nick Saban as the cynical public reformer, agent Gary Wichard as the mark and North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin as the naive, in-over-his-head playa who eventually gives the game away to a lonely, incorruptible investigator who's still all about the compliance, man, if the bosses could ever keep the damn politics out of his way.
And then, in some dank, unmarked office in the middle of nowhere, there would be a diligent, bespectacled paper pusher, like the one who just discovered that a trio of South Carolina football players have apparently been keeping rooms at a downtown luxury hotel near campus, according to the local paper, The State:
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.
Tight end Weslye Saunders (right), who has been the focus of the NCAA's investigation of USC, is one of at least three players with rooms at the Whitney, The State confirmed. Offensive tackle Jarriel King and defensive tackle Travian Robertson also have rooms in their names at the hotel. Calls to the three players' rooms on Thursday were not answered.
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.
Check out the Whitney's accommodations here. Nightly rates for a two-bedroom suite normally range from $93-$154; extended-stay rates are available at $57 a night for three months or longer, which would amount to $1,710 per month, or $855 if split between two people. The suites offer a separate bedroom, full kitchen, free Internet and a balcony overlooking downtown Columbia.
Hotel living isn't only for washed-up 1930s movie stars, especially when it's located so close to campus. Head coach Steve Spurrier had an extended stay at the Whitney immediately after he was hired, and Gamecock baseball coach Ray Tanner once moved his family into the hotel while their house was being renovated.
But a trio of college kids? Surrounded by silky chairs, inoffensive paintings and ottomans? At rates requiring at least one stable, full-time job? That might make for a nice, regular party pad, if you're that desperate to keep drunk people out of your house. But for their sakes, I hope they kept the receipts.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.