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Focusing On "Institutional Control" (Or Lack There Of)

Let's get back to the latest bomb shell scandal out of Troy because this will be the story of the day (if not of the week) in the entire sports world. The story is big enough that even the LA Times had to dive in and do some actual reporting (even though their headline with a question mark is kind of hilarious). Still the article provides this picture of a classic Trojan (alleged?) handoff:

The Beverly Hills meeting between Guillory and Floyd went this way, according to Johnson and his attorneys -- who said Johnson told the same thing to two NCAA investigators in the presence of USC attorneys last week:

Guillory was driving an Infiniti sport utility vehicle when he arrived at Johnson's Long Beach home saying that he needed to meet Floyd to "pick up a grand" for a trip to Las Vegas during the NBA's All-Star weekend. Floyd and Guillory exchanged cellphone calls arranging their meeting at a café adjacent to Rodeo Drive. Guillory drove to the location, but once there Johnson took the wheel, saying hello to Floyd before he switched over to the driver's seat and circled the block for 10 to 15 minutes after watching the pair enter a café.

Finally, Guillory appeared alone on a street corner, entering the vehicle and pulling out an envelope full of $100 bills.

"I hadn't seen anything like that before, but I did know, having covered the high school basketball scene, that those things happened, that coaches give kids money," Johnson said, adding that although he didn't see the money change hands, he was certain the exchange was made because of Guillory's description of what was going to happen followed by the showing of the money.

Most dramatic, Johnson said, was the moment he locked eyes with Floyd outside the cafe. "He knew who I was, a writer," Johnson said. "I read body language well. He was uneasy. It was written all over his face."

I am sure Johnson looked right into Timmeh's soul.

The story is much more about Timmeh and the Trojan's hapless basketball program though (and for our sake I want Timmeh to stick around because he has been great for us). As mentioned the story is now all about "lack of institutional control" and according to Jason Cole an Charles Robinson from Yahoo! Sports that is where the NCAA investigators (apparently they have been working?) have been focusing on (emphasis added throughout):

“I think [lack of institutional control] would be a very accurate interpretation of the angle the NCAA took in questioning,” said attorney David Murphy, who represents former Mayo confidant Louis Johnson. Johnson was a central figure in an ESPN report in May 2008 chronicling more than $200,000 in alleged improper benefits received by Mayo and Rodney Guillory, a sports agency recruiter. Johnson has been interviewed by the NCAA on two occasions, including one six-hour session in June 2008 and another one-hour teleconference this past Friday regarding his latest allegation – that USC men’s basketball coach Tim Floyd made a cash payment of at least $1,000 to Guillory in February 2007.

Asked if there was any way that USC could not have known of the financial relationship between Mayo and Guillory, Murphy said: “It is humanly impossible for them to not have known.

That sentiment mirrors statements by Lloyd Lake, who has alleged he helped give Bush and Bush’s family nearly $300,000 in benefits when Bush still was at USC. Lake has filed a civil suit against Bush over the alleged benefits. Lake told Yahoo! Sports in 2008: “People at USC knew. How could they not? We were in the locker room. Some of their [coaches] were there when we partied with him. They saw the things we had [given] him.”

Now before we go on to few more of the details here are the general parameters for "lack of institutional control" per Yahoo! Sports:

This is one of the NCAA’s most complicated and ambiguous thresholds. Boiled into the simplest terms, institutional control comes down to two central questions: Were adequate institutional policies and procedures in place to facilitate a member school’s compliance with NCAA rules? And if the adequate policies and procedures were in place, were they being properly monitored and enforced by persons in “control” at the time of a violation?

In essence, institutional control comes down to what rules exist, who was making sure those rules weren’t being broken, and whether the persons in charge of monitoring those rules were doing their jobs. Whether a member school demonstrated a lack of institutional control can vary depending on the scope of failures which led to a violation, the types of rules violated, and the depth of knowledge and reaction of those in control at a member school.

And here are the "acts that are likely to demonstrate a lack of institutional control":

1. A person with compliance responsibilities fails to establish a proper system for compliance or fails to monitor the operations of a compliance system appropriately

2. A person with compliance responsibilities does not take steps to alter the system of compliance when there are indications the system is not working.

3. A supervisor with overall responsibility for compliance, in assigning duties to subordinates, so divides responsibilities that, as a practical matter, no one is, or appears to be, directly in charge.
4. Compliance duties are assigned to a subordinate who lacks sufficient authority to have the confidence or respect of others.

5. The institution fails to make clear, by its words and its actions, that those personnel who willfully violate NCAA rules, or who are grossly negligent in applying those rules, will be disciplined and made subject to discharge.

6. The institution fails to make clear that any individual involved in its intercollegiate athletics program has a duty to report any perceived violations of NCAA rules and can do so without fear of reprisals of any kind.

7. A director of athletics or any other individual with compliance responsibilities fails to investigate or direct an investigation of a possible significant violation of NCAA rules or fails to report a violation properly.

8. A head coach fails to create and maintain an atmosphere for compliance within the program the coach supervises or fails to monitor the activities of assistant coaches regarding compliance.

Hmm ... so again let's go back to the list of scandals involving Trojan football and basketball progams from last year (which needs some updating) and see how many of those reported/alleged facts pass or fail the tests laid out above.

Let's looks at just some of the allegations NCAA is apparently looking into:

Among some of the aspects that sources say the NCAA is focusing on are the access that individuals like Lake and Guillory had to the Trojans’ athletic programs. For example, Johnson said that he and Guillory were regulars around Mayo and the USC men’s basketball offices, both before and after Mayo arrived on campus in 2007.

“We were in the locker room all the time, after every game, we sat behind the bench,” said Johnson, referring to the time before Mayo enrolled in school. Johnson said that USC did try to limit the contact between Guillory and the program once Mayo arrived but didn’t completely stop it.

“They tried to distance the relationship a little bit, but it was real obvious. [Guillory] was around the basketball office a lot, in the basketball office a lot. Everybody knew, everyone,” Johnson said.

Guillory also had previous ties to the USC basketball program. He was investigated by the NCAA in 2000 for his involvement with former Trojan Jeff Trepagnier and former Fresno State basketball player Tito Maddox. USC briefly suspended Trepagnier for his involvement with Guillory in 2000, but he was later cleared of any charges. However, the NCAA found that Guillory had broken rules by purchasing airfare for Maddox.

Johnson said Guillory’s connections to the BDA sports agency were well known to anyone in the basketball community, including players, youth coaches, college coaches and agents.

“Everyone knows who’s involved with what agent,” said Johnson, who previously worked for 16 years as a sports writer for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “Everybody knows who’s delivering players to what agent because they hang out together at games. You see them all the time together at games in Vegas at these tournaments, so it’s real obvious.

“Was it a secret that [Guillory] had a relationship with BDA prior to O.J. going to USC? Only if somebody didn’t know anything about basketball. For the people who were heavily involved in basketball, it was obvious. You don’t know exactly what kind of relationship it is. I didn’t know how big it was until I got close to it.”

I guess the Trojans can throw their hands up and plead, "that's right. We don't know anything about basketball!"

LAT report is already throwing out the speculation that the Trojans just might try to wash their hands clean by throwing Floyd under the bus:

Attorney Salerno said of Floyd: "It will be interesting to see if USC now backs him or throws him under the bus. . . . They can say, 'Maybe we were negligent with Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo getting money, TVs and all that, but in no way can we condone what has happened here.' "

But as Yahoo! Sports reports NCAA is also looking into the allegations of Pete Carroll hamming it up with agents:

Sources interviewed by the NCAA regarding Bush told Yahoo! Sports they had similar, visible ties at USC, including locker room access.

Lake, a partner in failed sports marketing agency New Era Sports & Entertainment, is suing the running back over alleged benefits Lake claims were provided as the firm tried to woo Bush as a client. The NCAA requested a copy of a photo Lake said he had of himself, former New Era business partner Michael Michaels and USC football coach Pete Carroll posing together in the locker room after a game. Carroll has declined to comment. Lake also provided the NCAA with financial documents and audio tapes of Bush and Bush’s stepfather, LaMar Griffin, talking about the alleged improper benefits. Bush’s family has denied the allegations.

No wonder stories are already surfacing (even though all the NFL jobs are filled up) that Carroll might be looking to bolt.

Cynics have good reason to question whether even the latest bombshell will mean anything in terms of concrete actions from the NBA. We know if this involved other programs, NCAA would be all over it, looking to impose penalties, even if it involved $150 worth of bag of groceries.

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.