Four months after the NCAA combined its investigations of former USC star athletes Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo into a single probe of USC’s athletic program, the movement appears to have done little in speeding up the decision-making process in what has turned into one of the longest NCAA investigations in recent memory.
The NCAA decided to combine the two probes into a larger investigation in April because the association wanted to review whether USC had shown a lack of institutional control, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. But the combination has failed to bring the investigation to an end.
The NCAA began investigating Bush three years ago, examining whether the 2005 Heisman Trophy-winner and his family received improper benefits from a sports marketing agent while the running back attended USC. In 2008, similar allegations surfaced around NBA lottery pick Mayo, who only played one year for the Trojans, but was allegedly given gifts and money while he was recruited and playing for USC.
Under NCAA rules, an athlete may not accept money, gifts or any other benefits from an agent. Additionally, NCAA rules prohibit colleges from giving money or other benefits to athletes they are recruiting. Both Bush and Mayo have said they’ve done nothing wrong.
Further accusations against Mayo’s coach, Tim Floyd, made matters worse for USC. Louis Johnson, a former member of Mayo’s inner circle, said Floyd gave at least $1,000 to Rodney Guillory, the man who is said to have lavished Mayo with improper benefits during the player’s time with the Trojans.
Rather than deny the claim, Floyd stepped down as the Trojans’ basketball coach June 9 and was replaced by Kevin O’Neill.
Todd Dickey, USC senior vice president for administration, and Mike Garrett, USC athletic director, spoke about the investigation in June. They both said USC, the NCAA and the Pac-10 are working hard toward bringing this investigation to a close.
“We have no idea how long this investigation will continue, and no one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion more than we are,” Dickey said. “But we remain committed to get to the truth.”
“No one would like to get this information out and put this whole thing behind us more than I do,” Garrett said.
Dickey also pointed out that the main reason the public has not received much information lately is because NCAA rules state that it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
Because so little is known about how far along the investigation process is at this point, those on the outside are left to speculate on how much longer it will be until the NCAA makes a decision.
“I would have expected the NCAA to announce something before the end of summer, before school started, before the football season started,” said Anthony V. Salerno, Johnson’s lawyer who has been involved with the Mayo case since the allegations surfaced in 2008. “I don’t have any idea what’s taking them so long.”
Salerno added, “You would think at a certain point, it’s stale. Why bother to sanction a program that has already moved past things?”
The NCAA does not usually take more than a few months to make a decision with its investigations, making the USC investigation unique,.
In recent years, the NCAA has cracked down hard on universities such as Ohio State, Massachusetts and Alabama for using ineligible players, stripping teams of wins and championship runs. All of these cases were decided within months after allegations surfaced.
The most recent example occurred last week, when the NCAA ruled that Memphis vacate all 38 wins and its Final Four run from the 2007-2008 season because star guard Derrick Rose was an ineligible player.
The allegations regarding Rose’s eligibility surfaced in May, when the NCAA began investigating if another person took the guard’s SAT test for him and whether or not Rose’s brother received free transportation on the team’s charter plane.
Roughly three months later, a decision was made.
Roughly three years later, the jury is still out on USC.