A mother of a prospective USC football player said Monday night that she and her son supplied information regarding the school’s NCAA recruiting violations.
But Joan Quinn, mother of Dan Quinn, a linebacker from San Dieguito High in Encinitas, said she wouldn’t have cooperated with a Pacific 10 representative if she had known that USC assistant coach Russ Purnell would lose his job.
USC Athletic Director Mike McGee revealed Friday that the school and the Pac-10 had conducted a joint investigation into recruiting violations.
Action taken by the school included the firing of Purnell, and the admission that a coach made “excessive contacts with three recruits.”
Although USC is banned from appearing on television this year for violations that occurred in April, 1982, the Trojans are not in danger of an NCAA “death penalty,” in which a school could be suspended in a sport for one or two years for a second violation. Such penalties went into effect Sept. 1, 1985, and USC’s previous football violation took place long before that date.
Quinn, who was released from his national letter of intent by USC last month, is now attending Notre Dame. He has lost a year’s eligibility by breaching his original agreement with USC.
“We didn’t want people to get into trouble at USC,” Joan Quinn said. “Do you think anyone wants to accept the consequences of anyone losing his job because, basically, my son made a mistake? Of course we wouldn’t.”
Joan Quinn said that she and her son cooperated with David Price, assistant executive director of the Pac-10, and signed statements implicating USC.
She also said that she was assured by Price that three San Diego area players who were recruited by USC along with her son wouldn’t suffer any adverse effects from the recruiting violations.
“We wouldn’t have cooperated if the other boys were affected,” Joan Quinn said. She identified Travis Knox, a wide receiver from San Dieguito High, and J.P. Sullivan, a defensive tackle from Vista High. She wasn’t certain of the identity of the third player, although Earnest Spears, a cornerback from El Camino High in Oceanside, is the only other San Diego area player on the freshman roster.
McGee has said that three recruited athletes have been granted limited immunity from the NCAA and their eligibility has not been affected. He didn’t identify them.
Purnell was assigned Orange County and San Diego as his recruiting areas. He has informed USC officials that he doesn’t want to talk to the media.
A source close to the San Diego high school football scene said that Quinn was vindictive toward USC after he was reportedly ridiculed after he failed to perform adequately in a physical fitness test initiated by USC last summer.
“Danny liked Russ Purnell and Artie Gigantino (USC’s defensive coordinator),” Joan Quinn said. “He didn’t go to the NCAA with any vindictive feelings towards USC. It’s sickening that Russ lost his job, but I believe he got left holding the bag. I don’t believe he did it (recruiting violations) all on his own.
“I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Danny was upset by the testing. He said his back was hurting him and he didn’t expect to do real well.”
As for Purnell reportedly visiting Quinn in excess of NCAA rules, Joan Quinn said:
“Just say USC visited us substantially more than the NCAA rules allow. I’m a lawyer and I got an NCAA booklet on recruiting rules. I was concerned that whoever recruited Danny would follow the rules.”
Joan Quinn said that the booklet told her that three campus visits to the recruit and three face-to-face visits with the parents are the allowable limit.
She said that other schools observed the rules, although Purnell has reportedly told friends that other assistant coaches in the conference and around the country should be “very nervous” in light of the recruiting violations made public by USC.
Joan Quinn said that she and her estranged husband, Mike, both wanted their son to attend Notre Dame.
“If I hadn’t pushed him so hard earlier, he would have signed with Notre Dame,” she said. “But he signed with USC and made a mistake.”
Joan Quinn said that despite rumors to the contrary she didn’t try to influence her son to get out of his letter of intent once he had signed with USC.
“There were a lot of positive reasons for him to go to USC,” she said. “My only son was only 90 miles up the freeway. I joined the San Diego Trojan Club and was ready to become a real USC fan.”
But she said she has subsequently been snubbed by Trojan Club members, some of whom believe that her son had turned USC in to the NCAA.
Joan Quinn said that her son asked relief from his obligation to USC because he had always wanted to go to Notre Dame and had “gotten off the track” by signing with USC.
“Danny called Russ Purnell and said he wanted to be released from his letter,” Joan Quinn said. “Ted Tollner called back and said it was his policy if a young man didn’t want to play for his school, he wouldn’t have to, and that makes sense.”
She said that it was easier for her son to get the release than he anticipated, adding that Danny contacted the NCAA.
“Then an official (Price) came to see us, not because of the release, but because he wanted to talk to us, anyway,” Joan Quinn said. “We were told what we said would be off the record and were persuaded to cooperate.”
Joan Quinn said that she’s also upset because she was “vilified” by a Los Angeles radio sports station that used her as an example of “momism at its worst.”
“They acted like I forced this 6-foot, 4-inch, 235-pound kid to go to Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s a school I do admire, though, because of its education and ethics.”
She says that her son does not come out smelling like a rose.
“Danny knew that USC was illegally recruiting, but he was set to go there anyway,” she said. “I don’t lose sight of that fact.”