NCAA Rivals Swipe Reveals Agenda Against USC?

I was skeptical when I heard Pete Carroll say this immediately after the USC football program was saddled with the harshest NCAA sanctions since the SMU Dealth Penalty:

“The agenda of the NCAA infractions committee took them beyond the facts, and the facts don’t match the sanctions.”

That comment was before USC’s Rivals website USCFootball.com, which is owned by Yahoo, published previously unreleased NCAA documents that showed significant inaccuracies in the NCAA’s investigation of the link between the USC football program and sports marketing agents who provided Reggie Bush with improper benefits. (That link is the central reason cited by the NCAA for applying such harsh sanctions on the school’s football program.)

That USC Rivals report though only showed a general incompetence by the NCAA in the efficacy of its investigation of USC. It didn’t give any reason to believe Carroll’s “agenda” claim.

But the NCAA’s almost immediate response to the USC Rivals report, may indeed have confirmed Carroll’s accusation.

Read more…

Sources: Percy Harvin Part Of NCAA’s USC Report

More details about the NCAA’s investigation of USC are leaking out this week after USC Rivals site USCFootball.com reported late last night on previously unreleased NCAA investigative documents.

Reggie Bush and Percy Harvin

Many of those documents, which include interview transcripts of USC assistant football coach Todd McNair, are littered with errors that can’t help but call the NCAA’s ultimate findings into question.

McNair’s alleged knowledge of Reggie Bush taking improper benefits from sports marketing agent Lloyd Lake is the heart of the NCAA’s case against USC. It was that alleged proof that led the NCAA to drop its harshest penalties on a football program since the SMU Death Penalty sanction.

Early this morning I posted about the NCAA’s errors in interviewing McNair and Lake. Errors that led to a lack of due process and prevented the establishment of indisputable proof that McNair knew what Lake was doing with Bush.

The most serious of those mistakes were during the investigation of a Jan. 2006 phone call in which Lake called McNair. Despite those discrepancies, the NCAA cited that call as perhaps its most prominent evidence in its case against USC.

The NCAA also attempted to point to calls McNair made to Lake in March 2005 as evidence that he knew what Bush was up to with Lake.

The circumstances, per NCAA investigative documents and USCFootball.com:

Bush was to host a recruit after the Oct. 29, 2005 USC-Washington State game considered the nation’s the top high school prospect.

McNair made repeated attempts to contact Reggie Bush in regards to the top recruit’s official visit. But Bush, on a post-game outing with family and friends, including Lake and Michaels, left the recruit waiting in his hotel room while they ate dinner. The recruit would later verify that timeline.

Among the numerous calls McNair placed to Bush and the recruit that night, three were to a 619 area code that was not Bush’s number. That number, cited from McNair’s USC phone records, belonged to Lake.

The NCAA assistant director of enforcement, Richard Johanningmeier immediately questioned McNair’s credibility when he denied knowing Lake or having any recollection of whose phone number he’d called that night.

“So as you can see from our standpoint, we’re having a lot of problems with your credibility and I have to tell you that there’s a good possibility that, uh, the NCAA could allege a, uh, ethical conduct charge of providing us false, misleading information in the fact that you denied that you know him, we have the telephone calls and we have a photograph with you with people that you say that you don’t know.”

The phone calls and photo were cited as proof despite McNair’s explanation that the three one-minute calls were to a number Bush had given him earlier when Bush’s cellphone wasn’t working. Lake, in his interview, didn’t recall the phone calls.

The photo, which USC was never allowed to see in its original format, had been altered, according to an expert in the university’s response to the NCAA’s allegations. McNair and his easily recognized actor-friend had posed for photos frequently according to his testimony.

Despite pages of documentation covering the Oct. 29 calls, the photo and statements of McNair’s “lack of credibility” the June 10 Infractions Report did not cite this as evidence that the assistant football coach must have had knowledge of the illegal benefits.

So thanks in part to trio of :60 calls McNair made to Lake, that Lake didn’t recall receiving, the NCAA surmised that McNair knew that Lake was partly responsible for giving Bush $300,000 in improper benefits. (The evidence involved in that part of the investigation was so dubious that the NCAA’s own Committee On Infractions threw it out.)

But the question remains: Why was McNair calling Lake that night in a seemingly desperate attempt to reach Bush? Read more…

Document Drop: NCAA Botched USC Investigation

After its football program was buried thanks to four years of damning media reports of impropriety perpetrated by Reggie Bush, USC is finally fighting back against the NCAA via its own media leaks.

Pete Carroll

(On second thought … he actually has a point)

Late Thursday Dan Weber and Bryan Fischer of USC Rivals site USCFootball.com published a report attributed to unreleased NCAA investigative documents that indicates the NCAA had very little, if any indisputable proof that a USC representative had direct knowledge of Bush receiving improper benefits while at the school. (The NCAA investigative documents would normally be accessible to the media but as the NCAA and USC are private institutions, respective Freedom of Information Acts are not applicable.)

Those newly-leaked NCAA investigative documents, which were part of the “workbook” used by the NCAA’s Committee On Infractions to prove its case against USC, show the NCAA made crucial errors in attempting to pin down a direct connection between USC assistant football coach Todd McNair and sports marketing agent Lloyd Lake. Lake was one of the men who provided Bush with up to $300,000 worth of improper benefits.

McNair’s alleged direct knowledge of Bush’s improper benefits is the central piece of evidence cited by the NCAA as justification for the harsh penalties doled out to the USC football program.

After reading the entire NCAA infractions report and the lengthy USCFootball.com report citing confirmed NCAA investigative documents, the basis for those penalties can be traced to two key situations. Read more…

Video: Pete Carroll Reacts To USC NCAA Sanctions

Pete Carroll gave his reaction to the NCAA sanctions levied against the USC football program today in a video uploaded to his personal Youtube.com account. The video and a transcription of all of this comments are below.

Pete Carroll

“I’m absolutely shocked and disappointed at the findings of the NCAA. I never, ever thought it would come to this. After nine years of working at the university and going through all of the challenges, the accomplishments that all of the people took part in, I’m extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this right now.

“After going through the process, from the depositions and the interviews, for years and years, and also participating in the hearing for the NCAA, I never thought there was any facts that supported these significant sanctions that have come forth.

“The primary issue throughout the process was ‘did the university know’? The university didn’t know, we didn’t know. We were not aware of any of these findings. I think it’s important for you to know that through all aspects of the program we were vigilant in the way we approached every aspect. We were always out there to do things better than they’ve ever been done before. Read more…

Reggie Bush Fired Agent Because He Wanted Out of Court Settlement

BUSH’S AGENT FIRED OVER NCAA VIOLATIONS LAWSUIT: Reggie Bush fired his agent last week because of allegations of NCAA violations against the running back:

Mike Ornstein Reggie Bush

The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that Mike Ornstein was let go over differences of opinion on how to handle charges of wrongdoing. Bush is fighting allegations that he & his family took money & gifts while he was at USC.Two would-be sports marketers hoping to sign Bush made the claims that Reggie accepted the illegal gifts. Ornstein was hoping to settle the lawsuit with the pseudo-agents out of court, but other Bush advisors advised RB to fight the suit.

As the TIMES notes, “Bush could have written a check, signed (plantiff Lloyd) Lake to a confidentiality agreement, and the lawsuit would have evaporated.”

Matt Leinart

Instead, the lawsuit was challenged, the allegations came out, and Ornstein was shown the door. But it didn’t take the agent long to find new work, as Matt Leinart hired him the next day.The only thing stranger than what has happened between Bush, Leinart and Ornstein is if a video of Ornstein dancing with Kerri Strug was posted on the internet.

Oh, wait.

Agent Fired By Reggie Bush Hired By Matt Leinart The Next Day

AGENT FIRED BY R. BUSH HIRED THE NEXT DAY BY LEINART: In what Liz Mullen of SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY calls “a stunning turn of events, agent Mike Ornstein has signed a marketing agreement with Cardinals QB Matt Leinart, a day after confirming that he was fired by Leinart’s former college teammate at USC, Saints RB Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush Matt Leinart

Ornstein’s “The Sports Link” is now the third marketing outfit Leinart has been associated with. #11 had previously left his original marketing rep, Creative Artists Agency, for CSMG - but never finalized a deal with the latter firm.Chuck Price, Leinart’s football agent said Thursday that “Leinart sought out and received Bush’s blessing before signing with Ornstein.

Matt Leinart Brynn Cameron

Some people may be perplexed about Leinart’s decision, but it all makes sense to us. Until he lands he finds someone to land him that Trojan condoms endorsement bonanza, Brynn’s baby-daddy won’t rest.Our favorite part of all this? The tug of war involves a convicted felon. Ornstein pleaded guilty in 1995 to mail fraud for his role in a scheme to defraud the NFL.