CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Arkansas senior TE Jeremy Sprinkle’s suspension from the Belk Bowl is related to an alleged shoplifting incident, sources have confirmed to SEC Country.
Sprinkle was accused of attempting to shoplift items at the Belk department store at the SouthPark Mall in Charlotte on Tuesday, sources said. The Arkansas team was there as part of a function for the bowl.
Each player on both teams — Arkansas and Virginia Tech — had 90 minutes to spend a $450 gift card at Belk on anything in the store. The players also each received a Fossil watch. Sources said Sprinkle attempted to take items worth more than the allotted cost available.
The athletic department announced the suspension two hours before kickoff Thursday.
“Jeremy’s suspension has been known by our staff and players for several days so we’ve had a chance to prepare our game plan accordingly,” coach Bret Bielema said in the release. “Throughout his career and this season as a graduate student-athlete, Jeremy has displayed numerous times the qualities we want to represent our program. We have standards within our family that must be upheld on a daily basis and unfortunately he failed to do that in the last week. Jeremy’s suspension isn’t drug, alcohol or violence-related but one that will cause him to miss his final game as a Razorback.”
Neither officials at Belk nor the SouthPark Mall had any comment on the matter. Charlotte Police did not dispatch any officers to the location, according to CPD public information officer Jessica Wallin.
Sprinkle, from White Hall, Ark., had 33 catches for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, his first as a starter after being No. 2 behind Hunter Henry the previous two seasons. He had been bothered by ankle injury for most of the season, but was still the No. 7 tight end available for the 2017 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
SEC Country writers Eric Bolin and Trent Shadid also contributed to this report.