NCAA probes USC program

NCAA investigations into former USC stars in football and basketball have been combined into one probe of the Trojans’ athletic program, sources connected to one of the cases said Wednesday.

Investigators have been examining allegations involving Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush and NBA lottery pick O.J. Mayo. Bush is accused of accepting thousands in cash and his family for failing to pay rent on a home owned by a fledgling marketer while he was playing for USC in 2004 and 2005. Mayo is accused of accepting cash and other benefits from a middleman representing a sports agency before and during the one season he played for the Trojans in 2007-08.

The allegations against Mayo were made by Louis Johnson, a former associate of Mayo and Rodney Guillory, who Johnson says received more than $200,000 in cash and gifts from a representative of the Northern California-based BDA Sports Management agency, funneling some of it -- including a flat-screen television, meals, clothes and other gifts -- to the player.

Johnson’s attorneys, Anthony V. Salerno and David Murphy, said Wednesday they were told during a recent conversation with a Pacific 10 Conference executive that the NCAA had consolidated its work on both cases into one investigation looking into whether the school showed a lack of institutional control.

“It makes sense,” Salerno said. “The NCAA looks at the program as a whole, and you may be talking about systemic problems in these cases of payments by agents. Yes, these were different teams and coaches. Rather than do it piecemeal, look at the institution.”


The NCAA, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did a Pac-10 investigator. Spokesman Jim Muldoon said it was conference policy to not comment on potential investigations.

Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hanson could not be reached for comment.

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett referred questions to the university’s legal counsel, who did not return messages. Trojans football Coach Pete Carroll and basketball Coach Tim Floyd could not be reached for comment.

Bush and Mayo have said they did nothing wrong.

Compliance experts have said a college athlete’s acceptance of improper benefits could result in NCAA sanctions against a program including forfeitures of victories, probation, a ban on postseason play, the loss of television appearances or scholarship and recruiting restrictions.


Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.