Suspended Weslye Saunders to sit

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that suspended senior tight end Weslye Saunders would not play in the Gamecocks' opener Thursday night against Southern Miss.

"He's not on the team. He won't play Thursday," Spurrier said.

Saunders was interviewed earlier this summer by NCAA investigators regarding a trip he took to Miami and whether it was funded by agents.

He's also one of at least nine South Carolina players who was living at the Whitney Hotel, which has come under NCAA scrutiny. Saunders practiced with the Gamecocks for the first part of the preseason, but has been suspended for the last week for reportedly lying to coaches about why he was late for a scrimmage.

Spurrier said Saunders was suspended for violating team rules, adding that his suspension was not tied to the NCAA investigation.

As for any other South Carolina players who might have to miss this first game or any additional games because of the Whitney Hotel probe, Spurrier said Tuesday the Gamecocks were still waiting to hear back from the NCAA.

Among those players who were staying at the hotel and could face suspensions are starting safety Akeem Auguste, starting offensive tackle Jarriel King, starting offensive guard Terrence Campbell, starting defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye and backup cornerback C.C. Whitlock.

"We will accept what the NCAA says and move on," Spurrier said. "I don't believe in distractions. If a guy gets hurt, the next guy has to go play. Whatever team is out there Thursday night, that's our team. They will be expected to go play well."

Spurrier said later Tuesday night that Stephen Garcia would start at QB and Brian Maddox would start at RB for the Gamecocks on Thursday.

Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com.