NCAA will look into allegations

USC is again facing a new set of potential NCAA violations.

Reports surfaced Saturday alleging former athletes Joe McKnight and Davon Jefferson received improper gifts from a Los Angeles County appraiser, according to the Los Angeles Times. The NCAA confirmed with the Times on Tuesday that it is investigating the allegations.

The Times obtained emails from the Los Angeles County’s assessor’s office, suggesting that Scott Schenter provided former running back Joe McKnight a car and an airline ticket and gave former basketball forward Davon Jefferson roughly $3,700 in cash.

The university will independently investigate the allegations, according to a statement released Saturday from USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.

“We have just learned of new allegations presented by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times,” Haden said. “We have discussed those allegations with the NCAA and Pac-12, and we will thoroughly investigate them and take any and all necessary actions.”

USC coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday morning that he had yet to speak to his players about the McKnight allegations and remained unsure if he would do so.

“I don’t know if they even know about it,” Kiffin said. “It’s got nothing to do with them. We don’t even discuss it.”

McKnight played for the Trojans from 2007-09 before declaring for the NFL draft, where he was selected in the fourth round by the New York Jets. Jefferson was at USC for one season, 2007-08, before similarly declaring for the NBA draft, but he was not taken. The NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations on rule violations.

Though USC football is coming off a two-year postseason ban, the team still remains on probation following sanctions handed down by the NCAA in June 2010. As a result, the university could be classified as a repeat violator if the NCAA finds that McKnight and Jefferson received improper benefits.

“I can personally assure you that USC takes its compliance obligations with NCAA and Pac-12 rules extremely seriously and we are dedicated to playing and competing the right way,” Haden said.

Schenter was first tied to McKnight in 2009 when the Times first reported McKnight had been seen driving a $27,000 Land Rover around the University Park Campus. The Land Rover had been registered under Schenter’s name. McKnight was then held out of the Trojans’ next game.