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Going on the Offensive

Regardless of where the Mayo and Bush situations end up USC needs to go on the offensive. I don’t mean in trying to spin this but to ensure that USC interests are protected in the future. A lot of fans want USC, read Mike Garrett, to get out front of this and make some sort of statement other than the weak one that was made last week. That is unlikely, as the lawyers always clamp down on these sorts of situations in their attempt to protect the institution. That’s fine, I get it, not sure if I agree with it or if it’s the correct thing but it is what it is.

I am on the fence as to weather Floyd and or Garrett should go. No one can argue that Mike Garrett has done wonders at putting SC back on the map in football and his hiring of Tim Floyd was supposed to help make things better in basketball. That being said the question does need to be asked. There were red flags with Mayo from the word go and it appears they were ignored, it was a roll of the dice that came up craps. Even if I wanted them gone you can rest assured I will not act like those from across town in how they acted towards Karl Dorrell, that’s not me.

But I am really not concerned about spin or statements I am more concerned about taking action to stop this from happening again. The state government put a lot of time and energy into a long-term lease for the Coliseum but what good is the lease if they can’t fill the building because the prime tenant is on probation? The state of California need to protect their investment by either enforcing the laws on the books or strengthening them with stiffer penalties while enforcing them. I realize that the Bush and Mayo problems are different but both could set this athletic program back significantly. USC is in a unique position being the only relevant football team in the city, so they will continue to be targeted because they are the only game in town. Sorry ucla you have a long way to go before you are relevant to anyone outside of your fan base.

Because there is no pro team the talent that Pete Carroll has amassed is like catnip to agents and their ilk on the prowl to make a buck. Of course that paints with some broad strokes but after the stories we read that came out right after the Bush story broke it was like they all had offices over in Heritage Hall. Guillory’s alleged free reign of the basketball offices is but another example.

I have mentioned before that USC has sued an agent in the past for tampering with an amateur athlete. All Things Trojan has the blast form the past.

In 1995, running back Shawn Walters looked like the next big thing from Tailback U. The USC junior had led the team in rushing as a freshman and sophomore and appeared to have serious pro potential.

[…]When USC officials determined that Walters received $9,000 from Pro Manage, they took the "unprecedented" step of suing the agency "alleging Pro Manage had interfered with the school's contractual relations with its athletes and had interfered with prospective business advantages for the university."

The case was "quickly settled" for $50,000 (coincidentally, the maximum penalty for damages allowed under state law -- unless actual damages were higher).

The actual law is listed there as well.

Another possible weapon comes from an odd but very knowledgeable source .

There is a very specific NBA rule that says that team personnel cannot talk to High School players unless it is at an approved event or function. No one associated with an NBA team can shill, sell, preach, promise, promote or praise to , with or around High School players.

This is a good thing. A very good thing. However, the lack of open communication between anyone at the NBA and High School players and coaches creates an obvious information gap. As with any business, when there are millions of dollars available each and every year, there will be those that insert themselves into the gap with promises that they can provide the link between the have and have nots.

[…]In this entire OJ Mayo story, the only thing I find highly implausible is that only 30k dollars was identified as changing hands. There are far too many agents competing in the market for projected 1st round draft picks for a high school senior who some consider a lottery pick to settle for 30k. Even High School kids learn quickly to play one agent off against the other. How do you think they picked the shoe company that put shoes on their family's feet ?

So what should be done ?

[…]Fortunately there is a simple solution.

Get the IRS involved, and I bet not only would the investigation pay for itself with untold millions coming back to the US Treasury in taxes and penalties, but the agents would clean up their acts very, very quickly. It would also clean up much of what ails "amateur" basketball. It’s a world that has become dependent on a thriving underground economy. It’s a cash business. Just the kind the IRS should and could step in to clean up.

Kind of like legalizing drugs right? It’s a great idea but good luck…it’s actually a great move because once there is a paper trail its hard to hide.

The NFL and NBA should do more as well by punishing agents, real or imagined (yes, I mean you Lloyd Lake), by not letting them do business with either of those leagues if they are caught tampering with amateur athletes. If the NBA is going to use the NCAA as their “D” league by establishing a one-year mandatory rule then you would think that they would also be more interested in protecting their investment.

Going after the players if they have already left the institution is another option but you would never get the players association of either league to approve it. Something has to give somewhere; the school can't go following around every top athlete. They can't snoop around into every athletes family to see if they are getting extra benefits and the agents aren’t going to self-police themselves so the school needs to get tougher. SC needs to leverage their strong relationship with the state in getting the current laws on the books enforced or make them tougher. Regardless of what they do SC needs to go on the offensive and protect the institution, their players, and their reputation from these types of predators. There is just too much at stake not to

UPDATE: 5/20 7:30am

This is a good start, The Sports Business Journal ($) is reporting...

O.J. Mayo is already drawing NBA interest that has nothing to do with his draft lottery status.

The National Basketball Players Association is investigating Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management to see whether the organization gave money to the former USC guard to secure him as a client, Robert Gadson, the union's director of security and agent administration, told ESPN on Monday.

It will be interesting to see what they turn up. If they do find something BDA should get hammered. I hope Garrett was on the phone behind the scenes getting this going.