Katie Thomas reports from the paper of record (emphasis added throughout):
A report that the N.C.A.A. has merged its inquiries into two former star athletes for the University of Southern California could indicate that investigators are focusing their attention on whether the university lost control over its athletic program, legal experts and lawyers involved in the cases said Friday.
Since 2006, the N.C.A.A. has been investigating whether Reggie Bush, now a running back for the New Orleans Saints, and his family took as much as $300,000 in cash and goods from a would-be marketing agent while he was playing for Southern California. Last year, similar charges surfaced about O.J. Mayo, who played basketball for one season for the Trojans before being drafted in 2008 by the Memphis Grizzlies. Bush and Mayo have each denied the allegations. [...]
Johnson’s lawyers, Anthony V. Salerno and David Murphy, said in a telephone interview Friday that officials with the Pacific-10 Conference told them earlier this week that the N.C.A.A. had combined the Bush and Mayo investigations. The lawyers’ revelations were first reported Thursday by The Los Angeles Times. “This suggests to me that the investigation is heating up,” Salerno said.
The report has the following interesting nugget from Brian Watkins, one of the attornes involved in the Reggie Bush fiasco:
“I do understand that that has happened,” Watkins said of the merged inquiries, although he said N.C.A.A. officials have never explicitly told him that was true. Speaking of the Bush and Mayo cases, Watkins said: “I believe there’s substantial evidence on both sides of violations, and I think it’s opening up a bigger can of worms. The question was whether or not the university knew or should have known, and I think the new case, the Mayo case, is more evidence of an institutional failure.”
Read the full report here which ends the following analysis from a Duke Law professor:
Paul H. Haagen, a Duke law professor and co-director of the university’s Center for Sports Law and Policy, said the combined investigation might be a matter of bureaucratic housekeeping. Even so, Haagen said: “If I were the counsel for U.S.C., this is worrisome. It raises the possibility that there are systemic problems, and if there are systemic problems, then the penalties are more serious.”
Like many of you here on BN and others around the internets, I am right now in wait and see mode. Given the track record we have seen from an impotent and in some cases totally incompetent NCAA officials, I am not sure if we will ever get to the truth and get accountability, but needless to say news this week has been ... uhm ... kind of interesting.