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USC Will File Suit Against Agent Caron : Colleges: Action is unusual, if not unprecedented. Oxnard agent says ledger was fabricated.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC is filing a suit against a sports agent who allegedly gave money and other benefits to three Trojan football players who have since been suspended.

The university will seek a temporary restraining order in L.A. County Superior Court today to prevent Robert Troy Caron of Oxnard or any representatives from his firm, Pro Manage, from contacting any USC athletes. The suit also will ask for unspecified damages, said Robert Lane, USC general counsel.

Caron, 37, a sports star at Ventura High and Ventura College, has been the focus of a widening scandal involving his year-old sports agency.

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NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference investigators last week questioned three USC players--Shawn Walters, Israel Ifeanyi and Errick Herrin--about their relationship with Caron. A ledger obtained by The Times showed that Walters was given about $15,900 for airline tickets, pocket money and other items. Ifeanyi and Herrin allegedly were given beepers and some other small items.

UCLA’s Donnie Edwards and about eight other players from five other schools also were linked to Caron, who denied he payed any players.

Caron also said this week that the ledger was a fabrication, but would not elaborate.

Although longtime observers of college athletics were not ready to call USC’s action unprecedented, they said it was unusual.

“I don’t believe it has occurred [before],” said David Berst, NCAA director of enforcement.

The suit claims that Caron and Pro Manage interfered with USC’s contractual relations with its athletes and interfered with prospective business advantages on the part of the university.

Lane said he suggested the university take the action and President Steven B. Sample approved it.

“You heard [Coach] John Robinson say the other day he was outraged by the fact it appears the student athlete is punished, the university is punished and the agent goes unpunished,” Lane said.

“We said it should not be a situation where there is no restraint on the agent who causes these things to occur.”

Caron, a personal injury and criminal attorney for the last decade, would not comment on the suit.

“This is killing Bobby,” said a confidant who asked not to be identified. “Not even the bad publicity, not even what happened. He’s feeling bad for the kids. He’s not greedy. He’s not preying on kids. He wanted to help the kids.”

Lane said USC was prepared for any fallout from its suit if other Trojan players are implicated.

“If we find it out, we should find it out,” he said. “We’re not trying to protect people who are not acting properly. We’re prepared to learn whatever there is to learn about our student athletes.”

The school has not yet asked the NCAA to restore their eligibility. Lane said the athletes have not made restitution for the amounts they allegedly received, usually the first step toward restoration of eligibility.

USC wants to establish exactly what is owed by whom before it seeks eligibility of any player because it wants to go before the NCAA only once, a source familiar with the affair said.

* MORE ALLEGATIONS

Curtis Marsh, a former receiver at Utah now in the NFL, says he received cash and gifts from Robert Troy Caron in violation of NCAA rules. C14


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