USC’s Leinart ‘Proud’ Of Bush: ‘Don’t Blame Him’

This week Matt Leinart was kind enough to bless us with his thoughts on his former USC football program getting bushwhacked with the worst NCAA football violations since the SMU Mustangs had their program terminated.

“It’s tough but no one can take away what we did on the football field there in those years. So whether they take the wins away or whatever it doesn’t affect us.

He is, however, disappointed at the sight of Heritage Hall’s lobby, which no longer displays the 2005 BCS national championship trophy. He said he and his teammates still have their championship rings to remind them of the title.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people I played with on those teams and we all say the same thing. Everyone who knows football knows we won those games and we won the title.”

They have a place where it’s all about football: It’s called the NFL. Read more…

NCAA Infraction Head Part Of Dirty Miami Program

In sanctioning USC’s football program two weeks ago, the Chairman of the NCAA Committee in Infractions, former Univ. of Miami (FL) Athletic Director Paul Dee, oversaw the most severe penalties levied against a Division I football program since SMU was forced to drop football.

Paul Dee's Miami Hurriances: SI called to disband program in 1995

The USC penalties happened in large part due to a NCAA investigation into the school’s football program that was sparked by multiple reports by Yahoo Sports beginning in 2006. Those reports, authored by Jason Cole and Charles Robinson, detailed improper benefits received by USC running back Reggie Bush - among other NCAA-applicable improprieties.

For longtime NCAA observers, COI Chairman Dee’s decision to punish USC severely was ironic as he previously was immersed in a notoriously renegade football program: The Miami Hurricanes of the ’80s and ’90s.

In 1995, the Miami football program under Athletic Director Dee was heavily penalized by the NCAA for rules violations that NCAA Committee of Infractions chairman David Swank reported at the time indicated a “significant lack of institutional control.”

15 years later, Dee applied that same term to the USC football program in doling out harsh penalties to the Trojan football program.

Six months before the NCAA handed out its penalties to Dee’s Miami football program in ‘95, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Alexander Wolff reported the problems at Miami to be so widespread that he argued the school should drop football altogether.

Perhaps not coincidentally, after the SI piece by Wolff, the NCAA ramped up its investigation of Miami - which reportedly began four years earlier. On Dec. 2, 1995, the Hurricanes received a one-year bowl ban, were stripped of 24 scholarships and placed on probation for three years. (Dee reported to the media on June 10 that Miami lost 31 scholarships.)

Much of Wolff’s SI piece came from citing investigative work by MIAMI HERALD reporter Dan Le Batard. On May 19, 1995, in addition to detailing outrageous off-field activities of Hurricane football players, Le Batard wrote of an incident involving Dee that had caught the attention of NCAA investigators: Read more…

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…

The Big Loser In USC Appeal? Trojans Themselves

Case you missed Pete Carroll’s canned, two-minute video reaction last week to (allegedly) unknowingly plowing USC’s football program into an NCAA-cast buzzsaw, he pledged to assist the university in an appeal to get the lifesucking sanctions reduced.

Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush Heisman Trophies

(O.J. Wants His Notoriety Back!)

Also promoting an appeal was USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush.

Most legal experts familiar with the NCAA appeal process have reportedly indicated that an appeal of such magnitude, especially in lieu of USC’s defensive public reaction to the penalties and lack of cooperation during the NCAA’s four-year investigation, would be a largely futile effort in the end.

Pete Carroll Book Signing In Huntington Beach

(Forever? Yes. Win? No.)

So why then are Carroll, Garrett and Bush pushing so hard for an appeal? Read more…

Source: USC AD Will Be Gone At End Of Summer

Ben Bolch of the L.A. TIMES reports on reaction from USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett to recently enacted NCAA sanctions now saddling the Trojans football program. Speaking to alumni in San Francisco last night, Garrett said of the penalties:

Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush Heisman Trophies

“As I read the decision by the NCAA … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.”

Diamond Leung of ESPN.com describes exchanges with Garrett last night as Leung attempted to get a comment from the USC AD:

Wearing a striped cardinal-and-gold-colored tie — and a smile — Garrett had this to say when I approached him before the start of the event: “No comment. Don’t bother me. The world is great.” Read more…

Carroll: ‘Surprised’ If USC Sanctioned By NCAA

Pete Carroll appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show today and addressed the NCAA investigation into the USC football program and his reaction to former USC linebacker Brian Cushing testing positive for a banned substance in an NFL drug test last September.

Brian Cushing Pete Caroll Reggie Bush

Carroll on Cushing testing positive: “Disappointed. … I don’t know anything about it.

Carroll on if Cushing ever tested positive for anything at USC: “We can’t talk about stuff like that. I would never say that anyone ever did.

In a statement on USC’s official website last year, Carroll denied that Cushing had ever tested positive for steroids:

“These rumors are absolutely false. If they were found positive, Clay and Cush would have been notified three weeks ago, which they weren’t and all of the NFL teams would have been notified too, which they weren’t.

“They’re both men of outstanding character and they never tested positive for anything here. This is an [sic] major example of irresponsible reporting, and the site that published this report should be ashamed of themselves.”

Carroll’s also provided thoughts on the nature and outcome of the four-year NCAA investigation into his USC football program. Read more…

USC Hoops: Postseason Ban, Scholarship Redux

USC announced self-imposed sanctions for its basketball program today because of what the school called, “NCAA rules violations related to O.J. Mayo.From USC release:

Mike Garrett Tim Floyd OJ Mayo

(USC AD Mike Garrett, Tim Floyd, OJ Mayo)

The self-imposed sanctions for the men’s basketball program include a one-year ban on post-season competition following the 2009-2010 regular season, including the Pac-10 Conference basketball tournament; a reduction of one scholarship for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years; a reduction by one of the number of coaches permitted to engage in off-campus recruiting activities during the summer of 2010, and a reduction in the total number of recruiting days by twenty days (from 130 to 110) for the 2010-2011 academic year.

In addition, because of Mayo’s involvement with Rodney Guillory, whom under NCAA rules became a USC booster due to his role in Mayo’s recruitment, USC will vacate all wins during the 2007-2008 regular season, which was when Mayo competed while ineligible. USC will also return to the NCAA the money it received through the Pac-10 Conference for its participation in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament.

Makes you wonder just exactly what Tim Floyd & Co. did during the recruitment and subsequent stay of O.J. Mayo. Also makes clear that whatever happened, it was likely pretty damn serious as these sanctions could end up being only the beginning.

Reporter Lance Pugmire of the LOS ANGELES TIMES on May 13, 2009:

USC basketball Coach Tim Floyd delivered cash to the man who steered O.J. Mayo to the university, according to a former associate of the player and the middleman.

That associate, Louis Johnson, says Floyd met Rodney Guillory outside a stretch of Beverly Hills cafes on Valentine’s Day in 2007, giving him at least $1,000 cash in an envelope — which Johnson has since reported to investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, IRS and the NCAA.

No wonder Floyd was seen at casino after his departure from the school.

Read more…