Suspended Easterling decides not to return to program

Southern Mississippi running back Antwain Easterling, who was indefinitely suspended on Feb. 19 for a violation of team rules, won't return to the program, a person close to the situation said Monday.

Easterling was a highly touted running back from Miami Northwestern High School who came to Southern Miss after being involved in a sex scandal that was covered up by high school officials.

Easterling was charged with second-degree lewd and lascivious battery on a minor after he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom when he was 18.

He was suspended indefinitely from the team by coach Larry Fedora on Feb. 19 for a violation of team rules. Last week, Fedora told the Hattiesburg American that Easterling remained suspended despite the fact the school's Registrar's Office said he was no longer enrolled.

"I didn't know he wasn't in school, but nothing has changed on his status," Fedora said. "You don't have to be in school to play in the fall, just as long as you're eligible."

Easterling, who ran for 85 yards on 16 carries in two games as a freshman, avoided jail with a pretrial diversion program.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.com.