More Thoughts on that "Other" USC Story

For much of today, USC fans have been scouring various internet message boards and watching ESPN in order to keep tabs on the latest rumor regarding Pete Carroll's possible departure to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. But while the focus has been on Carroll and the football program, it's important to remember that there remains much upheaval with the basketball team as well. On Sunday, the university imposed sanctions on the hoops program that banned the Trojans from the postseason for the current 2009-2010 season. The penalties stem from the fact that former player O.J. Mayo allegedly received cash payments and other benefits from Rodney Guillory. But despite these apparent violations, if you listen to current guard/forward Marcus Simmons, there appears to be another side to the story

Junior guard Marcus Simmons is an exception. He wasn't only a teammate, he was Mayo's roommate -- and he says he never saw any evidence that his friend was accepting money, gifts or special favors that would be in violation of NCAA rules.

"I didn't notice anything," Simmons said. "No change of clothes or anything."

In a statement announcing the self-imposed sanctions, USC Athletic Director Mike Garrettattributed the move to "Mayo's involvement with Rodney Guillory."

Guillory, who USC says was acting as a "booster," was accused by a former associate of funneling part of more than $200,000 given to him by a Northern California Sports Management agency to Mayo in cash, clothes and a television.

Mayo played one season at USC, in 2007-08, and is in his second season with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. The allegations that Mayo accepted the gifts from Guillory were denied this week by the player's agent, LaPoe Smith.

Simmons said, "There was a TV, but no clothes or cash. I've never seen . . . clothes or cash."

He also said the TV Mayo had did not seem to be anything out of the ordinary.

"It's disappointing," Simmons said of the sanctions, which include a ban on playing in the postseason, including the Pacific 10 Conference tournament, this season.    

Look, a current player like Simmons is not going to admit to any possible NCAA violations. It's not in his best interest, so even if he did feel that Mayo was guilty, it would be incredibly unlikely that he would disclose that information to begin with.

No matter what happens there are going to be those who defend people like Mayo and Tim Floyd to the very end. People always have allies, and friends willing  to defend them in the public square. A roommate like Simmons fits that bill perfectly so his reactions isn't incredibly surprising. 

This Mayo controversy is already serving as a big enough distraction for the current team so the last thing they need would be for players to start running their mouths through the media, creating more stories. Hopefully, they all continue to just say all the right things. 

 

 

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