USC reinstates Josh Shaw to team as inquiries over fabricated story end

USC cornerback Josh Shaw has been reinstated to the Trojans football team

With its most important game of the season only days away, USC on Tuesday announced it had reinstated cornerback Josh Shaw, who had been suspended since before the opener for fabricating a story about how he suffered injuries.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Monday it would not file charges against Shaw, who was the subject of a domestic violence investigation stemming from an August incident at his apartment near downtown.

"USC also conducted its own internal investigation of Josh, evaluating both athletic department code of conduct and potential NCAA compliance issues," Athletic Director Pat Haden said in a statement. "Based on these investigations and their conclusions, and the 10-game suspension Josh has served for code of conduct violations, we have made the decision to reinstate him.

"The role Josh will have in any remaining games is now in the hands of Coach [Steve] Sarkisian."

USC, ranked 19th in the College Football Playoff rankings, plays No. 9 UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The Trojans conclude the regular season Nov. 29 against Notre Dame.

During a USC radio show Tuesday night, Sarkisian said the Trojans were a family, Shaw was remorseful and they needed to welcome him back "with open arms."

"Where it goes from here," he said, "we don't know."

Shaw has recovered from ankle injuries suffered when he jumped from his apartment balcony after an argument with his girlfriend on Aug. 23.

He initially told USC officials he was hurt when he leaped from a balcony to save a relative in distress in a swimming pool. The school posted the heroic story on its athletic department website and it was picked up by media outlets across the country, including The Times.

Two days later, Shaw admitted to school officials and police he had fabricated the story.

Shaw met with USC officials on Tuesday afternoon at Heritage Hall. Afterward, he declined to comment. USC announced his return about an hour later and he attended a late-afternoon team meeting.

"I think there's a sense of relief," Sarkisian said of Shaw's reaction to his reinstatement.

On Wednesday, Shaw will practice with the team for the first time since late August. He will not be made available to reporters, Sarkisian told The Times.

Sarkisian said the senior had been stripped of his captaincy but would be embraced by teammates.

"We're really happy to have him back," quarterback Cody Kessler said during a radio interview. "He made a mistake, he learned from it and we forgave him."

Linebacker Hayes Pullard told The Times that Shaw would be a "a great addition" to the Trojans defense.

"We obviously have to get him molded back into our team," Pullard said, "but I believe our team is happy just being able to give a kid like Josh Shaw a second chance."

Shaw, who attended Palmdale High School, has played safety and cornerback at USC since transferring from Florida before the 2012 season.

Sarkisian said he would evaluate Shaw's physical and mental condition and do "what's in the best interest of our team."

Pullard does not anticipate it will take Shaw long to become reacclimated.

"Josh is a natural-born baller," Pullard said. "He can come out and get a couple practices. He's been conditioning before this so I know he's still ready.

"He's a very smart athlete. He'll be able to pick up the scheme real fast."

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

Times correspondent Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.

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