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Practice report: USC awaits NCAA word

South Carolina officials hope to hear from the NCAA on the status of several key players this week, although coaches are preparing for the possibility of playing without embattled tight end Weslye Saunders this season, according to sources close to the program.

Saunders, who was questioned by NCAA investigators about his possible involvement with agents, has been suspended for the past week for a separate incident. The senior from Durham, N.C., was the Gamecocks’ third-leading receiver last season.

Saunders is also among 10 players who were asked by USC coach Steve Spurrier to move out of the Whitney Hotel this month and make restitution to the Shandon-area hotel after receiving discounted rates for extended stays. Saunders had been living at the Whitney since 2009, and must re-pay more than $5,000, according to a source.

In addition to Saunders, defensive backs Akeem Auguste and C.C. Whitlock are the players most likely to face the most severe penalties because of the Whitney situation, sources said. Auguste is the Gamecocks’ starting free safety, while Whitlock is a second-team cornerback.

Spurrier has said players could miss a game or two, based on the NCAA’s history with players who received extra benefits. Spurrier and his assistants were not available for comment following Monday’s practice.

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