Athletic Director Mike Garrett, former football coach Pete Carroll and running backs coach Todd McNair were among the members of a USC contingent that was on the hot seat Thursday in Tempe before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
Meantime, former USC tailback Reggie Bush, the focus of many of the allegations that landed USC in the desert for its long-awaited hearing, was at the Winter Olympics in Canada, preparing to take in a hockey game and some ski races.
“There are attorneys, there are lawsuits, there are all those things that keep you from being able to talk,” Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, said during a promotional stop at a sponsor’s office in Vancouver, adding, “I’ve tried to do everything I can, on my part, to help USC out.”
When asked for details about how he helped USC, Bush said, “I can’t really speak on that because of pending things, but I’ve done everything I can and I will defend ‘SC until the day I die. . . . That’s just because I felt USC was so good to me. . . . I am USC and I represent USC.”
USC representatives spent more than eight hours in a hotel ballroom fielding questions from the 10-member infractions committee. The hearing, scheduled to continue through Saturday, is the culmination of a nearly four-year investigation that included allegations that Bush and former Trojans basketball player O.J. Mayo received extra benefits while competing for the Trojans.
USC has already imposed sanctions on its basketball program for violations that occurred during Mayo’s one-season stay with the Trojans in 2007-08. The committee will determine if more are warranted, what penalties, if any, the football program faces, and whether any combined violations in the athletics program constituted a lack of institutional control.
Former basketball coach Tim Floyd is expected to appear Friday at the hearing.
Most members of the USC contingent, including Garrett, President Steven Sample and new football Coach Lane Kiffin appeared unfazed Thursday when they emerged from the hearing. Following an order from infractions committee chairman Paul Dee, they declined to comment about what went on behind closed doors.
“We have been instructed by the chair of the proceedings not to discuss the proceedings,” USC spokesman James Grant said.
But Carroll and McNair spent much of the afternoon portion of the hearing fielding questions about allegations related to Bush, according to sources close to the situation who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
McNair, who was accompanied by an attorney, is expected to be present again Friday.
Carroll was scheduled to depart for Los Angeles on Thursday night. “I wanted to be on hand to support the university and the program and do what I could to help,” said Carroll, who left USC last month to become coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
Bush, who helped the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl, arrived in Vancouver on Thursday.
Allegations related to Bush date to 2004, when he was a USC sophomore. His family members allegedly lived in a San Diego home owned by a would-be sports marketing agent in 2005. Bush also allegedly received thousands in cash and other benefits from another would-be marketer who is suing him for nearly $300,000.
“It’s just so unfortunate that you have people who, when you’re on top, they want to bring you down, they want to see you fall,” Bush said Thursday.
“That’s part of maturing. When you’re in college, you don’t know,” he said. “It’s tough for any college kid to make mature decisions.”