Here is my further updated collection of all of the available information regarding the scandal, criminality, investigations, embarrassing incidents and other assorted black eyes that have plagued USC since Pete Carroll's tenure began five years ago. Besides several new incidents in the intervening months, I've added an entry relating to Southern Cal's basketball team, as it appears likely that there will be trouble with Tim Floyd's program if he doesn't take steps to avoid the controversy surrounding Pete Carroll's program.
I am once again surprised that Sourthern Cal players would be implicated in so many additional incidents during such a short period of time. Keep in mind, since I first posted this in April 2006, the list of incidents has nearly doubled. One would think that, following the recent spate of problems distracting attention from their endeavors on the field, that USC officials would take swift and substantial action to avoid further problems. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have happened.
As before, I have endeavored to collect as much information as is publicly available. Unfortunately, many of the news stories about these issues are no longer available online. I've provided links where I found them, and relied upon second hand sources to the extent those are reliable.
I also continue to try to be as objective as reasonably possible. The facts speak for themselves. I see no need to embellish. If anyone has any information that would help make this entry more accurate and complete, please let me know, and I will edit this accordingly. I should mention that when I posted this the first time around, a few people mentioned a few things they disagreed with, but didn't provide any supporting evidence. Please provide that, and I'll be happy to include it.
I should also say that, since I first posted on this subject, I've given these issues a fair amount of thought, and have shared my view that everyone doesn't really do it, and talked about those rationalizing mischief at USC. Sure, some apologists will continue to try to explain away the behavior detailed below by claiming that it "happens everywhere." That's fine. And, if you can show me a similar list for every other Division I football program out there for the same five year period, I'll consider revisiting my opinion.
- Pete Carroll was hired by USC in 2001.
- On August 23, 2001, the NCAA placed USC's athletic department on probation for two years and cut scholarships because tutors wrote papers for three athletes in the late 1990s. The events leading to the probation were before Carroll's time, but I include this for completeness sake.
- In 2002, the father of USC tailback Justin Fargas invited former USC Heisman Trophy winner, and alleged double-murderer, O. J. Simpson to a team practice (he was found not guilty in his criminal trial but was later found liable in a civil trial). After the practice, Carroll allowed Simpson to come onto the field and meet the players and pose for pictures. Carroll defends himself from criticism by claiming that Simpson wasn't invited.
- On July 19, 2003, USC Sophomore OT Winston Justice pleaded no contest to solicitation of a prostitute in Long Beach on June 24. Winston was put on 3 years probation and fined $300 for the offense.
- On March 3, 2004, Winston Justice was arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon. On June 15, 2004, Justice pleaded no contest to exhibition of a replica firearm. Justice was sentenced to 60 days of electronic monitoring and three years' probation. Justice was also suspended for two semesters by USC's student affairs committee after his arrest.
- In August 2004, USC starting tailback Hershel Dennis was at the center of a police investigation of an alleged sexual assault. According to sources, the incident took place at a party on August 16, and involved a female friend of Dennis. On August 17, Dennis was removed from practice and suspended by Carroll for "disciplinary reasons," including breaking curfew. On December 13, 2004, the LAPD announced it would not press charges.
- In late March 2005, USC starting cornerback Eric Wright was arrested for investigation of sexual assault. Wright was booked on rape charges and bail was set at $100,000 according to the Sheriff's Department. Wright was held out of spring practice, and, in April 2005, the district attorney declined to press charged because of insufficient evidence. Nevertheless, on June 2, 2005, Wright left USC amid possible disciplinary action. On August 25, Wright was suspended by three semesters by USC's student affairs committee, based upon the district attorney's office having found 136 pills of the drug Ecstasy in Wright's room at an apartment he shared with another player.
- In early April 2005, USC tight end Dominique Bird fractured his jaw during an alleged altercation with receiver Steve Smith. Bird, Smith and Carroll reportedly refused to comment on the incident, and no disciplinary action was taken.
- In August 2005, USC defensive end Frostee Rucker allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend at a party he was hosting in Los Angeles. In June 2006, Rucker was charged with two misdemeanor counts of spousal battery and two counts of vandalism and was scheduled to be arraigned on August 11, 2006. Despite the incident, Rucker did not face any discipline from USC, and didn't miss a game. Prior to transferring to USC, in April of 2002, Rucker was charged in Colorado with sexual assault and indecent exposure. Rucker reportedly eventually accepted a one-year deferred sentence on a misdemeanor harassment charge. Developing.
- On August 13, 2005, 10 veteran USC players were involved in a hazing incident where they shaved the head of freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez. Also, what started out as a water fight between USC players, escalated into an all-out brawl as it spiraled out of control. Reportedly, there was significant damage to the players dorms as players were thrown through walls.
- On October 31, 2005, USC tailback LenDale White plays a macabre prank by pretending to quit the team and throwing a dummy off a building on Child's Way. Separately, Pete Carroll apologized to Washington State coach Bill Doba for USC players pushing and bumping Doba while trying to get to the locker room during halftime of their game.
- On November 2, 2005, USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested for investigation of misdemeanor battery after punching a man at an off-campus Halloween party (twice, without provocation). A witness at the scene reportedly quoted Maualuga as stating "I own the police." Carroll took no disciplinary action, and Maualuga played the following weekend against Stanford. One USC pundit observed at the time that "discipline is Coach Carroll's number one weakness." On November 22, 2005, the city attorney's office declined to file charges. Maualuga was defended at the court hearing by controversial and well-connected USC alumni attorney Carmen "Nooch" Trutanich, who has a long history with USC and previously represented both Wright and Dennis.
- On December 21, 2005, USC starting quarterback Matt Leinart had his eligibility temporarily revoked after appearing in a promotional segment on ESPN earlier that month, a violation of an NCAA rule. Leinart was reinstated shortly thereafter. One observer claims the NCAA was just concerned about money.
- On January 1, 2006, reporters from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and CBS Sportline reportedly told the USC football team about potential recruiting violations stemming from visits by USC recruits to Papadakis Taverna, a Greek restaurant owned by former USC linebacker John Papadakis.
- On January 21, 2006, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was cited by the Pac-10 for working out with his own coach using school facilities. According to the NCAA, a student athlete cannot utilize the school's facilities to work out with a coach, unless the coach is affiliated with the university.
- On April 21, 2006, the family of USC running back Reggie Bush was implicated by numerous separate media reports as having lived in a house purchased by a San Diego-area man with ties to a sports agent and a tribal casino. Both the Pac-10 and the NCAA have launched an investigation into potential NCAA violations in connnection with this matter, which is pending. More recent reports in this fast evolving story are here, here, and here. Yahoo Sports, which is responsible for much of the investigative reporting on this issue, has set up a page dedicated to its eight-month probe here.
- On April 26, 2006, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a female student earlier that same day. Sanchez was released upon posting $200,000 bail, and has been ordered to appear in court on May 17, 2006. Sanchez was also placed on "interim suspension" by USC while the case is pending. On June 2, 2006, the LA District Attorney announced that it would not be bring charges against Sanchez due to insufficient evidence.
- On April 30, 2006, it was reported that USC compliance officials were investigating whether an NCAA rule was violated because receiver Dwayne Jarrett failed to pay approximately $10,000 for his half of the rent for an upscale apartment he shared with former quarterback Matt Leinart. USC claims that no rules were violated, though it has been reported that Jarret may have to sit out a portion of next season. Developing.
- In August of 2006, USC defensive back Brandon Ting quit the football team after testing postive for steroid use. His twin brother, Ryan, also a defensive back on the USC football team, quit the team just days later, claiming that he wanted to concentrate on preparing for medical school, and was never tested. Interestingly, Arthur Ting, father of the twins, is a Bay Area orthopedic surgeon who has reportedly appeared as a witness before a grand jury considering possible perjury charges against baseball's Barry Bonds, one of Arthur's clients. This incident finally triggered some real interest by the LA Times.
- On December 4, 2006, former USC stand-out, and current Rams rookie, tight end Dominique Byrd was arrested for allegedly hitting a bar patron in the face with a drinking glass. Byrd was charged with second- and third-degree assault and armed criminal action. He was released shortly after posting a $25,000 bond. Developing.
- In January 2007, a federal investigation into extortion claims by former USC running back Reggie Bush and his family revealed the existence of taped converstations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for USC. It was also reported that nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts were allegedly given to Bush and his family. The information came to light following the issuance of grand jury subpoenas to multiple witness by the U.S. District Attorney's office in San Diego. Both the NCAA and Pac-10 continue to investigate. Also, more recent articles suggest that Reggie Bush was involved earlier and more deeply than previously reported in efforts to create the sports marketing agency at the center of the continuing controversy. The investigation has, to date, yielded no definitive proof that USC officials had knowledge of Bush's misconduct, though Bush was nevertheless asked not to attend the Trojans' Rose Bowl matchup against Michigan on New Year's Day. Developing.
- On February 2, 2007, it was reported that a "stampede of student athletes," including three USC linemen, ex-USC receiver Keary Colbert, and members of the USC women's basketball, volleyball and water polo teams, had improperly attempted to take an academic shortcut around the university's foreign language requirement by signing up for a course at Los Angeles Trade Tech College taught by USC graduate Senora Ross, who promised to give the athletes no lower than a "B." Upon discovering the situation, USC officials disallowed the transfer of credits from Trade Tech.
- On February 8, 2007, it was reported that USC football players had created and joined a racist Facebook group as a "joke." The racist Facebook group was called "White Nation," showed a graphic of a swastika and black baby in handcuffs with the caption "arrest black babies before they become criminals." The group was created by USC linebacker Clay Matthews and was joined by teammates David Buehler, Brian Cushing, Dan Deckas and Dallas Sartz. Coach Pete Carroll responded to reports of the incident by saying he had no plans to discipline the players, and USC later announced that none of the players would be punished. According to Carroll, "[i]t's not a controversy, it's a mistake."
- On February 9, 2007, USC compliance officials announced they were investigating whether an NCAA violation occurred during the Trojans' pursuit of Louisiana prep star running back Joe McKnight. The investigation followed reports that McKnight had told reporters that USC coach Pete Carroll had set up a conference call so he and high school coach J.T. Curtis could be assured by ex-Trojan running back Reggie Bush that USC would not be punished for a separate NCAA investigation into improper benefits allegedly taken by Bush. Carroll later denied that any call took place, and Curtis said that McKnight misspoke. According to NCAA officials, if USC got Bush's help in recruiting McKnight, it would be considered a "secondary violation" of recruiting rules.
- On March 9, 2007, USC basketball recruit O.J. Mayo was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Huntington, West Virginia. Mayo was one of four young males found in a suspicious vehicle by a Cabell County Sheriff's drug task force unit assigned to serve a search warrant at a house nearby. The charges against Mayo were later dismissed by a magistrate judge, after the driver of the vehicle pleaded guilty to the charge. The incident followed a controversy in January following Mayo's two game suspension after receiving two technical fouls in a high school game and coming into contact with an official, as well as prior reports of two prior altercations and a suspension following an incident with a female student.