Both the Los Angeles Times and Yahoo Sports have commented on the critical importance and relevance of the combining of the NCAA’s investigations into USC for the alleged O.J. Mayo scandal as well as for the alleged Reggie Bush scandal. Apparently, the combining of both cases is a extremely relevant as described by one criminal defense attorney who analyzed the NCAA investigator’s actions on Rivals.com:
“In law enforcement investigations, separate cases are combined when there appears to be a substantive link between the two investigations. In other words, the NCAA in this matter found a substantive commonality between the two. Otherwise, the NCAA risks appearing as though they are painting both situations with a broad brush, rather than doing a careful investigation of each. Furthermore, these investigations are incredibly voluminous and complicated. The last thing an investigative body wants to do is combine complicated investigations and make them more complicated, unless there is a clear and important connection that requires bringing the two investigations together. Also, it clearly means that the NCAA found a SUBSTANTIVE connection between the two investigations and they intend to do something about it.”
What’s been implied as a ‘connection’ according to discussions on Rivals.com, is a systemic issue further alluding to a potential “lack of institutional control” on USC’s part. Now for those who may have forgotten the many ‘concerns’ that have transpired over the past 8 years at USC Athletics, in 2006, Menelaus from BruinsNation cataloged some of the many embarrassing incidents, rule transgressions, and investigations that had since transpired within USC Athletics – complete with references of published articles backing up each incident. (Note the hyperlinks in each bulleted item.) This is my favorite line:
“I should also say that, since I first posted on this subject, I’ve given these issues a fair amount of thought, and have shared my view that everyone doesn’t really do it, and talked about those rationalizing mischief at USC. Sure, some apologists will continue to try to explain away the behavior detailed below by claiming that it "happens everywhere." That’s fine. And, if you can show me a similar list for every other Division I football program out there for the same five year period, I’ll consider revisiting my opinion.”
Anyway, someone from the Utah Utes web site on Scout.com updated the list to 2008. Here’s the content, reprinted for folks that don’t have Premier Subscription Access. (http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=365&f=1272&t=3423759)
- Pete Carroll was hired as head football coach by USC in 2001.
- On August 23, 2001, the NCAA placed USC’s athletic department on probation for two years and cut scholarships because tutors wrote papers for three athletes in the late 1990s. The events leading to the probation were before Carroll’s time, but I include this for completeness sake.
- In 2002, the father of USC tailback Justin Fargas invited former USC Heisman Trophy winner, and alleged double-murderer, O. J. Simpson to a team practice (he was found not guilty in his criminal trial but was later found liable in a civil trial). After the practice, Carroll allowed Simpson to come onto the field and meet the players and pose for pictures. Carroll defends himself from criticism by claiming that Simpson wasn’t invited. In May 2008, Simpson’s ex manager alleged that Simpson admitted to killing Nicole Brown Simpson.
- On July 19, 2003, USC Sophomore OT Winston Justice pleaded no contest to solicitation of a prostitute in Long Beach on June 24. Winston was put on 3 years probation and fined $300 for the offense.
- On March 3, 2004, Winston Justice was arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon. On June 15, 2004, Justice pleaded no contest to exhibition of a replica firearm. Justice was sentenced to 60 days of electronic monitoring and three years’ probation. Justice was also suspended for two semesters by USC’s student affairs committee after his arrest.
- In August 2004, USC starting tailback Hershel Dennis was at the center of a police investigation of an alleged sexual assault. According to sources, the incident took place at a party on August 16, and involved a female friend of Dennis. On August 17, Dennis was removed from practice and suspended by Carroll for "disciplinary reasons," including breaking curfew. On December 13, 2004, the LAPD announced it would not press charges.
- On January 14, 2005, Tim Floyd was hired as head basketball coach by USC.
- In late March 2005, USC starting cornerback Eric Wright was arrested for investigation of sexual assault. Wright was booked on rape charges and bail was set at $100,000 according to the Sheriff’s Department. Wright was held out of spring practice, and, in April 2005, the district attorney declined to press charged because of insufficient evidence. Nevertheless, on June 2, 2005, Wright left USC amid possible disciplinary action. On August 25, Wright was suspended by three semesters by USC’s student affairs committee, based upon the district attorney’s office having found 136 pills of the drug Ecstasy in Wright’s room at an apartment he shared with another player.
- In early April 2005, USC tight end Dominique Bird fractured his jaw during an alleged altercation with receiver Steve Smith. Bird, Smith and Carroll reportedly refused to comment on the incident, and no disciplinary action was taken.
- In August 2005, USC defensive end Frostee Rucker allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend at a party he was hosting in Los Angeles. In June 2006, Rucker was charged with two misdemeanor counts of spousal battery and two counts of vandalism and was scheduled to be arraigned on August 11, 2006. Despite the incident, Rucker did not face any discipline from USC, and didn’t miss a game. In May 2007, Rucker pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and vandalism charges stemming from the 2005 incident. As part of a plea agreement, the prosecutors dropped a charge of spousal battery and Rucker was sentenced to three years of probation. Prior to transferring to USC, in April of 2002, Rucker was charged in Colorado with sexual assault and indecent exposure. Rucker reportedly eventually accepted a one-year deferred sentence on a misdemeanor harassment charge.
- On August 13, 2005, 10 veteran USC players were involved in a hazing incident where they shaved the head of freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez. Also, what started out as a water fight between USC players, escalated into an all-out brawl as it spiraled out of control. Reportedly, there was significant damage to the players dorms as players were thrown through walls.
- On October 31, 2005, USC tailback LenDale White played a macabre prank by pretending to quit the team and throwing a dummy off a building on Child’s Way. Separately, Pete Carroll apologized to Washington State coach Bill Doba for USC players pushing and bumping Doba while trying to get to the locker room during halftime of their game.
- On November 2, 2005, USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested for investigation of misdemeanor battery after punching a man at an off-campus Halloween party (twice, without provocation). A witness at the scene reportedly quoted Maualuga as stating "I own the police." Carroll took no disciplinary action, and Maualuga played the following weekend against Stanford. One USC pundit observed at the time that "discipline is Coach Carroll’s number one weakness." On November 22, 2005, the city attorney’s office declined to file charges. Maualuga was defended at the court hearing by controversial and well-connected USC alumni attorney Carmen "Nooch" Trutanich, who has a long history with USC and previously represented both Wright and Dennis.
- On December 21, 2005, USC starting quarterback Matt Leinart had his eligibility temporarily revoked after appearing in a promotional segment on ESPN earlier that month, a violation of an NCAA rule. Leinart was reinstated shortly thereafter. One observer claims the NCAA was just concerned about money.
- On January 1, 2006, reporters from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and CBS Sportline reportedly told the USC football team about potential recruiting violations stemming from visits by USC recruits to Papadakis Taverna, a Greek restaurant owned by former USC linebacker John Papadakis. As of July 2007, the investigation by USC compliance officials continued.
- On January 21, 2006, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was cited by the Pac-10 for working out with his own coach using school facilities. According to the NCAA, a student athlete cannot utilize the school’s facilities to work out with a coach, unless the coach is affiliated with the university.
- On April 21, 2006, the family of USC running back Reggie Bush was implicated by numerous separate media reports as having lived in a house purchased by a San Diego-area man with ties to a sports agent and a tribal casino. Both the Pac-10 and the NCAA have launched an investigation into potential NCAA violations in connnection with this matter, which is pending. More recent reports in this fast evolving story are here, here, and here. Yahoo Sports, which is responsible for much of the investigative reporting on this issue, has set up a page dedicated to its eight-month probe here.
- On April 26, 2006, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a female student earlier that same day. Sanchez was released upon posting $200,000 bail, and was ordered to appear in court on May 17, 2006. Sanchez was also placed on "interim suspension" by USC while the case was pending. On June 2, 2006, the LA District Attorney announced that it would not be bring charges against Sanchez due to insufficient evidence.
- On April 30, 2006, it was reported that USC compliance officials were investigating whether an NCAA rule was violated because receiver Dwayne Jarrett failed to pay approximately $10,000 for his half of the rent for an upscale apartment he shared with former quarterback Matt Leinart. USC claims that no rules were violated, though it was initially reported that Jarret may have to sit out a portion of the 2006-07 season. Jarrett ultimately avoided punishment and was the 45th pick in the 2007 NFL draft. After a disappointing season, Jarrett was arrested on March 11, 2008 and charged with driving under the influence.
- In August of 2006, USC defensive back Brandon Ting quit the football team after reportedly testing postive for steroid use. His twin brother, Ryan, also a defensive back on the USC football team, quit the team just days later, claiming that he wanted to concentrate on preparing for medical school, and was never tested. Interestingly, Arthur Ting, father of the twins, is a Bay Area orthopedic surgeon who has reportedly appeared as a witness before a grand jury considering possible perjury charges against baseball’s Barry Bonds, one of Arthur’s clients. This incident finally triggered some real interest by the LA Times.
- On August 29, 2006, it was announced that former USC quarterback Matt Leinart would be having a child out of wedlock with USC basketball player Brynn Cameron. While not improper in any meaningful way outside of his personal life, this event begins a long list of embarrassing incidents involving the former USC star (not to mention other USC quarterbacks).
- On October 16, 2006, it was announced that then 14-year-old high school freshman Dwayne Polee Jr., who had yet to even play a game at Westchester high, had verbally committed to USC’s basketball team. Though not improper, the early commitment was unconventional, and was repeated in June 2007 when USC announced the verbal commitment of 14-year-old middle school player Ryan Boatright, who, at the time, had not yet even decided upon where he was going to high school. Further eyebrows were raised in June 2007, when USC hired Dwayne Polee Sr., father of Dwayne Polee Jr., as Director of Basketball Operations, amid charges of nepotism.
- On December 4, 2006, former USC stand-out, and former Rams rookie, tight end Dominique Byrd was arrested for allegedly hitting a bar patron in the face with a drinking glass. Byrd was charged with second- and third-degree assault and armed criminal action. He was released shortly after posting a $25,000 bond. In early May, 2008, Byrd was scheduled to go to trial in St. Louis Circuit Court on felony charges of assault and armed criminal action stemming from the nightclub scuffle in December 2006. In March 2007, he was charged with DUI in California. In October 2007, he pleaded no contest to the DUI charge and received three years’ probation. In May 2008, Byrd was released by the Rams.
- In January 2007, a federal investigation into extortion claims by former USC running back Reggie Bush and his family revealed the existence of taped converstations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for USC. It was also reported that nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts were allegedly given to Bush and his family. The information came to light following the issuance of grand jury subpoenas to multiple witness by the U.S. District Attorney’s office in San Diego. Both the NCAA and Pac-10 continue to investigate. Also, more recent articles suggest that Reggie Bush was involved earlier and more deeply than previously reported in efforts to create the sports marketing agency at the center of the continuing controversy. The investigation has, to date, yielded no definitive proof that USC officials had knowledge of Bush’s misconduct, though Bush was nevertheless asked not to attend the Trojans’ Rose Bowl matchup against Michigan on New Year’s Day.
- On February 2, 2007, it was reported that a "stampede of student athletes," including three USC linemen, ex-USC receiver Keary Colbert, and members of the USC women’s basketball, volleyball and water polo teams, had improperly attempted to take an academic shortcut around the university’s foreign language requirement by signing up for a course at Los Angeles Trade Tech College taught by USC graduate Senora Ross, who promised to give the athletes no lower than a "B." Upon discovering the situation, USC officials disallowed the transfer of credits from Trade Tech.
- On February 8, 2007, it was reported that USC football players had created and joined a racist Facebook group as a "joke." The racist Facebook group was called "White Nation," showed a graphic of a swastika and black baby in handcuffs with the caption "arrest black babies before they become criminals." The group was created by USC linebacker Clay Matthews and was joined by teammates David Buehler, Brian Cushing, Dan Deckas and Dallas Sartz. Coach Pete Carroll responded to reports of the incident by saying he had no plans to discipline the players, and USC later announced that none of the players would be punished. According to Carroll, "[i]t’s not a controversy, it’s a mistake."
- On February 9, 2007, USC compliance officials announced they were investigating whether an NCAA violation occurred during the Trojans’ pursuit of Louisiana prep star running back Joe McKnight. The investigation followed reports that McKnight had told reporters that USC coach Pete Carroll had set up a conference call so he and high school coach J.T. Curtis could be assured by ex-Trojan running back Reggie Bush that USC would not be punished for a separate NCAA investigation into improper benefits allegedly taken by Bush. Carroll later denied that any call took place, and Curtis said that McKnight misspoke. According to NCAA officials, if USC got Bush’s help in recruiting McKnight, it would be considered a "secondary violation" of recruiting rules.
- On March 9, 2007, USC basketball recruit O.J. Mayo was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Huntington, West Virginia. Mayo was one of four young males found in a suspicious vehicle by a Cabell County Sheriff’s drug task force unit assigned to serve a search warrant at a house nearby. The charges against Mayo were later dismissed by a magistrate judge, after the driver of the vehicle pleaded guilty to the charge (though Mayo’s father subsequently had his own difficulties). The incident followed a controversy in January following Mayo’s two (some sources say three) game suspension after receiving two technical fouls in a high school game and coming into contact with an official, as well as prior reports of three suspensions by his high school, the last one following an altercation with a female student.
- On April 14, 2007, it was announced that Percy Romeo Miller, also known as Romeo (and formerly Lil’ Romeo) had been offered a basketball scholarship to USC. The scholarship offer, to a 5-foot-10 point guard with a bad knee who had never played a full season of high-school basketball, was roundly criticized by national commentators as a thinly veiled attempt by USC to obtain the commitment of Miller’s friend, prep star and NBA prospect Demar DeRozan, while ignoring Miller’s mediocre at best talent.
- In the first week of August, 2007, there were new developments in the NCAA investigation of former USC running back Reggie Bush, when it was reported that audio recordings that allegedly establish an improper financial relationship between Bush and a would-be sports marketing agent were played for NCAA investigators. The tapes were revealed after Lloyd Lake, a partner in failed sports marketing agency New Era Sports enterprise, filed a lawsuit against Bush and his family, seeking to recoup nearly $300,000 in benefits Lake claims he helped provide. Lake’s allegations were further detailed in January 2008, with the publication of Don Yaeger’s book Tarnished Heisman, which chronicled various allegations swirling around Bush’s USC tenure, including claims that Bush received $47,000 out of an overall $291,000 that went to his family from sports marketer Lake. That same month, published reports contained Lake’s (unsubstantiated) allegation that USC coaches knew Bush was taking money in violation of NCAA rules.
- On August 28, 2007, a contributor to Bruinsnation.com unearthed a report from April 1996 that USC running backs coach Todd McNair was arrested and charged with 81 offenses involving the mistreatment of 22 pit bulls being trained on his property for dogfights while a running back for the Houston Oilers. In light of recent press relating to NFL quarterback Michael Vick, the report unleashed a firestorm, with numerous acts of alleged animal cruelty being uncovered in McNair’s past, including multiple misdemeanors convictions (via plea bargain) regarding animal cruelty and failure to license, and "all indications" that McNair was involved in dog flighting. McNair, who was previously implicated in Reggie Bush scandal, having allegedly known about Bush’s involvement with the New Era venture before USC national championship game against Texas, faced no discipline from USC.
- On September 27, 2007, it was reported that USC sophomore point guard Daniel Hackett would be sidelined at least six weeks after suffering multiple fractures of his jaw when he was struck by the "elbow" of teammate O.J. Mayo during a pickup game. Shortly thereafter, it was reported, based upon several sources, including a member of the basketball team, that Mayo punched Hackett during the game. The player was quoted as saying "Yeah, he punched him," "They changed the story for the media." Despite later denials by Floyd and others, this version of the events was confirmed on multiple occasions.
- On November 3, 2007, convicted felon Suge Knight was given a sideline pass to a USC game. Knight joins O.J. Simpson and Snoop Dogg as USC’s esteemed guests.
- In early November 2007, USC forward Davon Jefferson was suspended for the team’s embarrassing season-opening loss to Mercer. Jefferson, who required two years to meet the NCAA’s minimum academic requirements and was kicked out of prep school before he joined USC, was also later benched for much of a narrow loss at Stanford and also suspended for a loss to Washington State. After clashing with Floyd, Jefferson did not even inform the school of his decision to turn pro.
- On January 21, 2008, USC freshman guard O.J. Mayo was alleged to have violated NCAA rules by accepting complimentary tickets from Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony to a Lakers-Nuggets game at Staples Center. Coach Floyd subsequently took the blame, and Mayo was ultimately required to donate the value of the tickets to charity.
- On March 2, 2008, USC defensive tackle Fili Moala was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer after a melee at a Newport Beach bar was broken up by police. Moala was released after posting $500 bail, and on March 13, the Orange County district attorney’s office declined to press charges.
- On March 5, 2008, USC recruit Maurice Simmons was arrested for robbery in Compton, after he allegedly pointed a handgun at a man and demanded his belongings. Simmons, a linebacker from Dominguez High School, was initially held at the Los Angeles County jail on $50,000 bail, and then released after posting bail of $85,000. Simmons was arraigned on March 7, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15, 2008. To date, USC has not indicated whether or not it intends to honor its commitment to Simmons. Developing.
- On April 1, 2008, USC head coach Pete Carroll, in an attempt to make light of the Trojan’s extensive past history of criminality, invited members of the LAPD to play a prank on defensive end Everson Griffen, who was said to have "physically abused a freshman" and was threatened with arrest during a team meeting.
- On April 6, 2008, USC sophomore tailback Joe McKnight was held out of the team’s scrimmage and it was announced that he would miss the final week of spring workouts because he was academically ineligible to participate. McKnight had dropped a class, leaving him without the 12 units required for eligibility.
- On April 27, 2008, the NFL draft ended with USC guard Drew Radovich remaining unselected. Expected by some to be a mid-to-late round pick, Radovich’s stock allegedly dropped based upon character concerns.
- In late April or early May, 2008, a video was posted on Pete Carroll’s website starring his son, Brennan. The video, replete with profanity and questionable behavior, was widely ridiculed, and was allegedly used against USC in recruiting. In mid-May, the video was removed from youtube.com, with Carroll explaining that it was just a "spoof."
- On May 2, 2008, the judge in the civil litigation between former USC running back Reggie Bush and Lloyd Lake ordered the parties to appear in June 2008 for their depositions, and denied Bush’s attempts to impose a "gag order" to prevent the deposition transcripts from being shared with the NCAA. The judge also set a trial date of March 13, 2009.
- On May 4, 2008, former USC tight end Fred Davis failed to attend the final practice of the The Washington Redskins minicamp because he overslept after a late night out. Besides giving a poor first impression, Davis confirmed concerns about his commitment to football dating back to his time at USC. Davis was suspended for two games his freshman year at USC for coming back late from his home in Ohio, and missed the 2005 Orange Bowl.
- On May 6, 2008, it was announced that USC’s men’s basketball team was the only major athletic program in the Southland penalized with scholarship losses as the result of a poor performance in the NCAA’s academic progress rate. The Trojans were penalized in part because Lodrick Stewart, Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt stopped attending class after the 2007 season, and because three players transferred within the same season. USC’s APR score of 804 was 121 points below the minimum-acceptable mark, and stemmed from various academic problems, including Gabe Pruitt’s academic ineligibility for the fall 2006 semester, and his ineligibility again following the spring 2007 semester. USC served the penalty during the 2007-08 season.
- On May 13, 2008, ESPN aired an episode of Outside the Lines that contained extensive, well-documented allegations that USC guard O.J. Mayo received improper benefits from a sports agent (BDA Sports) and that agent’s runner (Rodney Guillory) both before and during his one season at USC. It was alleged that Guillory received benefits in excess of $200,000, while Mayo received $30,000 in benefits, including cash, clothes, cell phone service, and a flat screen television for his dorm room. USC immediately faced a storm of criticism, with several prominent commentator calling for sanctions, including the so-called "death penalty." The criticism of USC intensified as it was reported that Guillory was given largely unfettered access to Mayo and the athletic department, after a highly unusual recruitment process, despite USC knowing of his involvement with agents, including a prior scandal with USC’s Jeff Trepagnier, for many years. The Pac-10 and the NCAA have launched investigations. Developing.