In one of the more bizarre attempts at putting a lid on bad news, USC announced over a sleepy holiday weekend that a booster gave under-the-table gifts to a basketball player and, as a result, the school would be issuing sanctions against itself.
The early Sunday morning announcement, made when many reporters were away for the holiday weekend, still resonated far and wide. And there's already speculation that the preemptive strike was made in order to shield the school's football program from any heat the violation might bring. Last year the NCAA combined its ongoing investigations of former USC running back Reggie Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo, who is the source of the university's weekend mea culpa.
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"USC takes allegations of NCAA rules violations very seriously," states USC athletic director Mike Garrett. "When allegations were made regarding our men's basketball program we immediately began an investigation and worked closely with the NCAA and the Pac-10 in an attempt to ascertain the truth. When we've done something wrong, we have an obligation to do something about it and that is exactly what we are doing here."
USC states that its basketball team will not participate in post-season play, will forfeit wins during the 2007-08 season that featured Mayo, will return some money earned for its participation in the 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament, and will cut back on recruiting.
The scandal involves booster Rodney Guillory, who has been accused of furnishing gifts to Mayo.
More at USC's website.