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NCAA Clears USC Defensive Tackle Russell

TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC defensive tackle Darrell Russell, who exchanged clothing with a recruit who was visiting the university, will receive no penalty by the NCAA, school officials said Tuesday.

“The NCAA notified us [Tuesday] that [the situation] had been investigated and there was nothing to it,” said Tim Tessalone, USC’s sports information director.

The Pacific 10 Conference, which was also notified of the matter by USC, has not completed its review. “We will review this under our normal procedure,” said David Price, associate commissioner of the Pac-10.

The investigation was prompted a few weeks ago after allegations by a former recruit, Clarence Martin, were published in the Austin American-Statesman. Martin, who signed with the University of Texas, accused the USC football program of recruiting irregularities, saying the school will “do anything to get players, and bend the rules.”

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Martin said USC players offered him shoes and jackets, and he accused David Robinson, the Trojans’ tight-end coach and son of Coach John Robinson, of making illegal overtures.

Later, Martin denied making those allegations. However, the majority of the interview with the American-Stateman was on tape. Times reporters confirmed the statements were on the tape.

“I wasn’t speaking from me, I wasn’t speaking about things I had experienced, but things I heard from other people,” Martin said Tuesday from Austin. “I told him [the reporter] things I heard from different people, different sources, not things I experienced myself. I like Coach John Robinson and his son, David.”

USC, upon learning of Martin’s allegations, investigated the matter and said the incident involved an exchange of clothing between Russell and Martin, who have known each other since junior high school. Martin said that on his visit to USC, he had traded a pair of slacks for two USC jerseys.

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USC also said Tuesday that it is still awaiting the outcome of an NCAA investigation into allegations that wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, a senior, took money from an agent. “They say we are supposed to hear soon,” Tessalone said.

The Times reported last week that the investigation may go beyond USC’s first game on Sept. 9.


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