I'll just go ahead and skip the introduction and let you take this in for yourself:
LOS ANGELES – USC men’s basketball coach Tim Floyd made a direct cash payment to a man who helped deliver O.J. Mayo to the Trojans program, according to Louis Johnson, a former member of Mayo’s inner circle.
Johnson, a one-time Mayo confidant, has told both NCAA investigators and federal authorities – including the FBI, IRS and U.S. Attorney’s Office – that Floyd gave at least $1,000 in cash to Rodney Guillory, a man who allegedly lavished Mayo with improper benefits while the guard starred for the Trojans.
Such an act would constitute a major NCAA violation for USC, which is the subject of an ongoing three-year investigation into alleged improprieties in both the football and men’s basketball programs.
You can find the full report here. To the NCAA, this kind of allegation is beyond huge -- the only bigger no-no than someone around a program paying for a player is a coach paying for a player. Just ask Todd Bozeman how the NCAA generally handles that one.
There's not exactly unadulterated outrage on the Internet right now over it, I think because of the relatively small sum of the payment and how long these USC investigations are dragging out. But anyone who thinks this isn't a big dang deal is either ignorant or severely jaded -- we're talking about a COACH paying for a PLAYER. There are obvious implications in competitive advantage in such a move, hence the reason why the NCAA so heavily penalizes coaches and schools (hello, mid-80s SMU!) found guilty of it.
While the brazenness displayed by Floyd in Johnson's account is jaw-dropping, Floyd may never actually be individually punished by the NCAA -- especially if Johnson's statement can't be corroborated in some way. As Rick Neuheisel demonstrated, if you're going to interfere with a coach's ability to be gainfully employed, you better make darn sure you have an ironclad case.
But when coupled with the agent allegations already surrounding Mayo and Reggie Bush -- and the NCAA is coupling them -- big trouble appears to be on the horizon for the Trojans.
This latest account just adds to a growing mountain of circumstantial evidence that's leading to the dreaded "lack of institutional control" label being bandied about. And we all know that's a term no athletic department wants even within earshot of its program. Forget the fact that the NCAA investigation of USC is taking so long; when an organization is taking on one of it's 2,000-pound gorillas, it better have all its ducks in a row. The fact that the investigation is taking so long (going on three years now) ought to be a sign that the scope and depth of this is bigger than people want to admit, not a sign that the NCAA is coming up empty handed.
While we'd like to sit here and smugly smile at USC's misfortune bred by this apparent bit of hubris, that's a pretty shortsighted view to take. If this were Ohio State or Florida State or Oklahoma, I'd be laughing my head off, but what's bad for USC is bad for the Pac-10 and by extension bad for us. Love them or hate them, the Trojans generate a tremendous amount of interest and revenue for the conference that gets shared with all of us. For that reason alone, I'd like to hope it comes out that all of this is untrue. But that's sure looking like a long shot at this point.