USC and the dreaded LOIC
USC versus the media
Malamute, 19 February 2010
from USC's athletic department -- as well as former football coach Pete
Carroll -- are meeting with members of the NCAA infractions committee to
answer allegations of impropriety regarding their athletics program. If
USC officials (coaches, administrators) were aware of the extra benefits
allegedly given to former running back Reggie Bush by a fledgling sports
agency, then USC could face the dreaded sanctions associated with a
"lack of institutional control," which might include a ban on
post-season play and the loss of scholarships.
opinion, the levying of these sanctions centers around running backs
coach Todd McNair. Evidently, sources have told Yahoo sports that "USC
running backs coach Todd McNair knew of Bush's involvement with the
marketing firm before last season's national championship game against
Texas." According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush was worried that coach
Carroll might find out about the relationship.
blogger Ted Miller writes, "It's likely that Trojans running backs coach
Todd McNair, who is also on hand but refused comment, will face tough
questioning on the Bush matter. One of Bush's former agent suitors,
Lloyd Lake, who is embroiled in a contentious lawsuit with Bush, has
claimed that McNair was aware of his association with Bush."
If McNair knew about the
association with Bush, then how much he knew about the financial
relationship comes to question. Sourcing Lake for that relationship
brings up some questions, which are discussed below.
And if McNair
denies knowing about the relationship, then it could boil down to a
he-said-she-said argument and, if so, the Trojans could face the less
severe sanctions associated with a Failure to Monitor (FTM).
According to Miller, McNair
has had a lawyer present with him at this week's meetings with the NCAA.
The NCAA is reviewing much
more than allegations surrounding Reggie Bush, so be aware that the NCAA
investigation is more complex than I have made it out to be. See The
Los Angeles Times' timeline of USC's troubles.
For example, what about tailback Joe McKnight's use
of a 2006 Land Rover that was owned by a Santa Monica businessman? USC
held McKnight out of the Emerald Bowl while its compliance office
investigated the matter.
In December, Bill Plaschke of the Los
Angeles Times wrote, "The most damning part of The Times story is the
Land Rover parked outside the Trojans' practice field with the emergency
lights flashing while (Joe) McKnight socialized with his teammates and
coaches before jumping in the car and driving away.
"Is there nobody at USC who would see this and wonder why this kid with
no job from an economically disadvantaged background would be driving
such a nice vehicle?"
Was Plaschke insinuating an LOIC? I have
But what's the bluebook on a 2006 Land Rover? About $20K? Sounds like racial
profiling to me.
Then there are allegations surrounding
former basketball player O. J. Mayo that are discussed in the Times'
Playing chess with the NCAA, USC's
athletic director Mike Garrett opened the game with a gambit,
sacrificing his basketball team in what appeared to be a brilliant move.
Responding to the gambit, the Los Angeles Times'
T. J. Simers
countered, "There is talk about
how the basketball program is assuming the role of a sacrificial lamb in
the hopes its slaughter might mitigate any football punishment, but that
also takes the blame off Garrett, who deserves it all."
Simers than concocts a scenario in which Garrett is talking to Tim
Floyd, former USC basketball coach, about the recruiting of O. J. Mayo
and that Garrett should have told Floyd to tell the guy who promised to
deliver Mayo to get lost.
"Never happened because Garrett was asleep on the job, and quite
literally Monday, Times reporter Baxter Holmes -- my new hero -- telling
Garrett to 'wake up' after Garrett had fallen asleep during the Trojans'
afternoon basketball practice."
How's that for turning a metaphor into reality?
In Simers' mind, I guess, Garrett should be out in the parking lot
profiling the cars his athletes are driving instead of being asleep at
Mayo's agent said that Mayo did not accept
gifts or money while being recruited by or playing for USC.
Floyd, who resigned as USC's coach last summer, has
denied wrongdoing, according to the Times.
This stuff with the Los
Angeles Times reminds me of what happened to the UW football program in
1992, when it was hammered by the media. (*)
With a questionable media
involved, one wonders if USC will get a fair hearing, for once public
opinion is formed it's hard to change it, and right now there is the
public presumption that USC lacked institutional control in the Bush and
Mayo matters. If the NCAA let's USC off with minor penalties, the
"eastern mafia" will scream that money talks; members of the NCAA
infractions are well aware of this potential charge and how it could
affect their future investigations.
I think its fair to say that
most football fans across the country -- including those from UCLA and
Notre Dame -- would want to believe that USC is guilty of an LOIC,
providing they knew the difference between an LOIC and an FTM. The NCAA is
aware of that also, being in what could be an untenable position if it
goes with the lesser failure-to-monitor charge.
Along with Plaschke's and
Simers' rumblings, certainly, Don Yeager's book, "Tarnished Heisman," isn't helping USC's cause. The following taken
from Amazon's description of the book seems aimed at an LOIC, although
not emphatically so: "Don Yaeger exposes the
NCAA-prohibited activity in which (Reggie) Bush allegedly engaged, and
also shows how USC and its coaching staff appeared to have turned a
blind eye to the increasingly luxurious lifestyle of their star athlete
and his family."
Note the weasel-word, "appeared," in Amazon's
Since Lake has a criminal history, his use as a
source for Yeager's book -- and coach McNair's alleged familiarity with
the Bush/agency relationship -- comes into question. See "All
Then there is the matter of compensation for Lake's
story. "The compensation wasn't for the tapes, the compensation was for
Lloyd Lake's story. That was a decision made before I got involved with
the project," Yeager says.
USC officials can always point to a double
standard if the university is hammered with penalties, the eastern mafia
In its most recent cases, "the
NCAA found that 61 Florida State athletes committed academic fraud in 10
sports and the penalty was forfeiture of games. Alabama had more than
200 athletes in 16 sports misuse a textbook distribution program at a
cost of more than $40,000 and also forfeited athletic contests."
Why did a
tainted Alabama program
field a team in the BCS title game this year?
Supporting the notion of a double standard, when
questioned about the Washington versus Michigan/Woodson punishments,
Yeager replied, "I have always argued that the NCAA has been
inconsistent in its meting out of collegiate athletic "justice" -- I
don't want to just say "justice," because these aren't crimes in most
I doubt if the Trojans
will face sanctions as severe as those levied on the UW football
program in 1993. It's not that the sports agency had a 10-year relationship with
Bush and that USC administrators and coaches should have known about it.
Under policy amended in
2001, the NCAA eased the burden on schools whose athletes are targeted
by unscrupulous sports agents, according to a former NCAA enforcement
If the USC football program should collapse, it would hurt the whole
conference, not only in its perception, but by the decreased revenues
the Trojans would be putting in everybody's coffers.
(*) In July of
1994, the NCAA reviewed the penalties levied against Washington by the
Pac-10 conference. In adding additional penalties, it stated: “The
penalties imposed, which are in excess of those imposed by the
institution and the conference, reflect the committee's finding of a
significant lack of institutional control over the summer jobs program
in the Los Angeles area. Had the athletics department and, in
particular, the members of the football coaching staff made even the
most cursory examination of that jobs program during the 10 years of its
operation, they would have discovered the violations.”
The university was
prohibited from collecting $930,000 for its participation in six
televised football games during the 1993 season. Postseason competition
in football was banned for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. There was a
reduction in the number of permissible official visits in football
during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 academic years, and a reduction in the
number of permissible football scholarships during the 1994-95 and
1995-96 academic years.
Also reference Yahoo
Sports, "Cash and Carry."