When Dwayne Jarrett arrived last week for the start of USC’s training camp, the All-American receiver said he was not worried about the NCAA’s impending decision about his eligibility.
On Wednesday, though, Jarrett acknowledged a sense of relief.
The NCAA, which had ruled the junior ineligible because of his living arrangement last season with former quarterback Matt Leinart, announced that Jarrett was reinstated and would not miss any games.
“The whole situation, it was innocent, it was nothing like I felt like I really did wrong,” Jarrett said after the Trojans’ completed their first scrimmage. “I guess they saw that, and it worked out.”
In June, the NCAA declared Jarrett ineligible because he received an “extra benefit” when he paid a discounted rent on an expensive downtown apartment. Leinart’s parents leased the apartment in a high-security area of the Medici complex after the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner’s announcement that he would bypass a chance to enter the 2005 NFL draft and return for his final season of eligibility.
Leinart’s father, Bob, told The Times in April that Jarrett and his son each paid $650 a month and he picked up the balance of the $3,866 rent.
Bob Leinart said at the time that USC officials told him Jarrett might be forced to pay him back about $10,000.
But the NCAA said Wednesday that Jarrett must pay $5,352 to a charity of his choice.
“Mr. Jarrett made a mistake, and we believe that had he known he was required to pay his full share of the rent for the apartment, he would not have chosen to live there,” said Jennifer Strawley, NCAA director of membership services and student-athlete reinstatement. “Reinstatement is a delicate balance of addressing the benefit or competitive advantage gained with student-athlete well-being. In this instance, requiring some level of repayment was a fair and reasonable outcome given the specific facts.”
Jarrett said the condition for his reinstatement was fair. Coach Pete Carroll was happy the issue had been resolved but remained rankled that it became one.
“I bicker a little bit with the whole thing, but they came, I guess, to what they feel is a fair judgment on the deal and all of that,” Carroll said. “We have never felt like anybody did anything wrong, and it was portrayed like maybe there was something horrible that happened here, and it wasn’t that.”
Jarrett and Leinart shared the apartment for 13 months.
The NCAA determined that the total value of the benefit Jarrett received was $18,001. Jarrett will be required to pay the full value of his $960 monthly housing stipend, minus what he had paid in rent, plus half the cost of utilities for the time he lived in the apartment.
“The reinstatement staff concluded that Mr. Jarrett gained a benefit based on his living arrangements,” Strawley said. “Requiring him to pay the full value of his housing stipend and his share of the utility costs not only considers all the facts in the case but also provides a student-friendly decision that allows him to compete without missing any games.”
Jarrett said he has not selected a charity and, with help from family, would be able to pay the sum. A USC athletic department spokesman said Jarrett could pay the money in a lump sum or in installments over the length of his remaining eligibility.
Jarrett said he would live alone this season in an apartment that will cost about $1,000.
“I’m just looking forward to the season,” he said. “Everything is behind me now.”
As expected, USC’s scrimmage proved to be a showcase for several freshmen.
Running backs C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Emmanuel Moody ran hard and did not fumble, receivers Travon Patterson and Vidal Hazelton produced several electric plays and safety Taylor Mays intercepted a pass and recorded six tackles.
Carroll said the young players made their mark.
“We wanted to find out in the scrimmage where they fit in, where they are, do we have something we can really get excited about,” Carroll said. “I think we do and we’re going to start working to figure out how to mix these guys in.”
Johnson gained 119 yards in 13 carries. Gable ran for 64 yards in eight carries. Gable and Hazelton both returned kickoffs 100 yards for touchdowns against the scout team.
Quarterback John David Booty completed eight of 19 passes for 114 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Defenders also batted down several passes.
Mark Sanchez was eight of 12 for 103 yards and a touchdown.