Visitors to the Coliseum who take the press-box elevator, inside Gate 6, are greeted by a large photograph covering the elevator’s two doors.
The photograph is from the last college football season, and it shows three USC players teaming up to tackle UCLA running back Paul Perkins. Only one USC player is distinguishable, a several-foot-high figure dominating the foreground: linebacker Don Hill.
Hill was suspended from all team activities earlier this week. He was not allowed to play in USC’s first two games. A Los Angeles Police Department search warrant, obtained by The Times, listed Hill as a suspect in a sexual assault investigation.
The photograph illustrated the line USC must tiptoe with a player who has been the subject of a criminal investigation but has not been charged with a crime. The football program has separated itself from Hill with his suspension, but to what extent does that separation extend?
Attempts by The Times to reach Hill have been unsuccessful, and he has made no public comment to the media regarding his situation.
A USC spokesman said the school did not have immediate plans to alter or remove the photograph. He said the photograph was a group shot, not a portrait of Hill, whose presence was incidental.
The ethics of such situations can be sensitive for schools, which have leeway to impose rules and control things like stadium displays, even for players who have not been charged with a crime.
“It’s hard for these institutions,” Shawn E. Klein, a sports ethicist at Arizona State told The Times earlier this week. “I don’t envy the people who have to strike that balance.”