It was almost convenient for USC football that O.J. Mayo played hoops at the school.
Southern California rushed like Heisman emeritus Mike Garrett in his football-toting prime to sanction its basketball program for alleged rules violations connected to O.J. Mayo's one season as Trojans shooting guard. An investigation of the football program Garrett holds so dear in his role as USC's A.D. is moving as slowly as an old-fashioned four-corners stall.
Reggie Bush has been gone from the USC campus since the spring of 2006. That's just short of four years. Yahoo! Sports broke its big story about alleged extra benefits paid to Bush and his family worth as much as $100,000 in September of that year. And yet the Trojans football program has continued unabated to this day, annoyed by the existence of an investigation into those alleged improprieties but unpunished for anything that might have occurred.
So it does not take a particular genius for business, perhaps not even an expert on collegiate sports, to understand what is happening here. In their most recent game, the basketball Trojans faced Pac-10 opponent Arizona State before a Saturday night crowd of 5,917. The football Trojans finished their home season against Arizona in front of 83,753.
The difference between those two gates is measured in the millions. It's almost convenient for USC that Mayo came into the basketball program.
His experience and affiliations as a high school player in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia were no secret to anyone who followed his development, and yet the NCAA cleared him to play for the Trojans. When former sportswriter Louis Johnson later told ESPN that Mayo was receiving gifts from representatives of a sports agent before he enrolled in college and while he played for the Trojans, it became an ideal opportunity for the USC athletic department to demonstrate a supposed commitment to compliance without doing anything to damage its core business.
USC, in banning itself from basketball's 2009-10 postseason, is following the game plan established by Ohio State back in the middle of the last decade. A little while after questions arose about former running back Maurice Clarett's academic integrity, then-Buckeyes basketball coach Jim O'Brien told then-A.D. Andy Geiger he had made a payment to assist the family of a former recruit that encountered difficult times because of civil strife in their region of Serbia.
O'Brien immediately was fired -- he later sued and recovered more than $2 million in unpaid contract obligations -- and the athletic department self-imposed a one-year postseason ban on the Buckeyes for the subsequent season.
The football program got a clean conduct report.
This is like watching a rerun of Parks and Recreation -- a bad sitcom about incompetent bureaucrats.
Yep, that fits.
No one with any degree of wisdom is going to pretend Mayo was innocent, or even an amateur, during his time at USC. But once again basketball players with no particular connection to any alleged rules violations are being asked to bear the punishment. Where was Trojans point guard Mike Gerrity when Mayo was a Trojan in 2007-08? He was across the country in Charlotte, the second of his three college stops. And yet he and his teammates will take the hit not only for what occurred with their program, but almost certainly for what might have occurred within Trojans football and that no one with any authority seems to be in a hurry to reveal.
You do not want to hear the list of substantial American investigations that took a fraction of the time that USC's supposed examination of the football program has lasted. To place this thing in the same sentence as those others would seem indelicate.
However, the longer the investigation of USC football lasts, the more distant all that unpleasantness will appear. The Trojans can't run from their football issues, but they can hide, apparently.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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