Scott Ross, former USC All-America linebacker, dies at 45


Scott Ross, a former All-America linebacker for USC who played on three Rose Bowl teams, died Sunday in Lafayette, La., the university announced. He was 45.

Ross was found dead in a car parked outside a church, according to Craig Stansbury, public information officer for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office. There were no signs of foul play, but the official cause of death is awaiting the results of toxicology tests being conducted by the local coroner’s office.

In July 2012, Ross sued the NFL, claiming he had suffered head trauma during his one season playing for the New Orleans Saints and the league had ignored and concealed the risk of injury. His case was consolidated with those of about 5,000 other former players who had sued the league over head injuries.


A high-spirited, intense personality at USC, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Ross was a four-year letterman at inside linebacker from 1987 to 1990 and was named to the All-Pac-10 first team his last three seasons. As a senior in 1990, besides garnering All-America honors, he was named USC’s most valuable player, most inspirational player and defensive player of the year.

The Trojans, coached by Larry Smith, had a 35-12-2 record during Ross’ time on the team. He played in three Rose Bowl games: after the 1987 season, when USC lost to Michigan State, 20-17; after the 1988 season, when USC lost to Michigan, 22-14; and after the 1989 season, a 17-10 victory over Michigan. He also played in the 1990 John Hancock Bowl, a 17-16 loss to Michigan State.

Ross was drafted by New Orleans in 1991 and played four games for the Saints. He returned to USC to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1996 and, according to the university, worked in sales and marketing.

Born Dec. 7, 1968, in Sacramento, Ross grew up in Livermore, where his father was a sales representative for a sporting goods company. The family moved to Southern California after Ross’ first year of high school, and he became a member of the El Toro High School football team that won the 1986 CIF Southern Conference championship.

Ross’s survivors include a daughter, Caroline; his parents, Marshall and Janie; and a brother, Jason.

According to USC, a memorial service is planned for Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. at Saddleback Church, 1 Saddleback Parkway, Lake Forest.


Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.

Follow Claire Noland on Twitter @clairenoland