USC Should Stand For University Of Soliciting Cash!

John LewisSenior Writer IMay 12, 2008

First a report came out about Reggie Bush accepting gifts while he played football at the University of Southern California, now it's O.J. Mayo's turn to field questions about taking money and other gifts in his only year on the court.

According to sources, Louis Johnson and Rodney Guillory are now part of the investigation that will try to uncover just how much Mayo received.

Johnson was a former member of Mayo's inner circle, He revealed how the former Trojan had accepted gifts and thousands of dollars in cash from Rodney Guillory, a California event coordinator, and Bill Duffy Associates, a California sports agency.   Mayo signed with BDA once he turned pro.

Johnson claims that more than $200,000 was given to Mayo in the last couple of years.  However, according to Mayo and USC, he's been through an investigation that found no wrongdoing at all during his only season.

According to California state law, it's a misdemeanor for a sports agency to give money and gifts to amateur athletes. This is certainly a small price to pay to make millions of dollars.   

But as we listen to Johnson speak about his former associates, don't you get the feeling that he's angry that he wasn't compensated more for his work?  Why else would he rat out his former friends?  I don't think it was because he felt guilty for doing what he did.    

However, Mayo did get into some hot water earlier this year when he attended a Denver Nuggets game and was provided tickets by Carmelo Anthony. Accepting these types of gifts is against NCAA rules, so Mayo had to come up with the value of the tickets, $460, and give it to a specified charity.  He did not miss any games as a result of the violation.

My question is, wouldn't a coach pick up on this, if a player is driving a $50,000 car, has a 50-inch flat screen in his dorm room and plenty of cash all the time?  I know coaches aren't supposed to jump to conclusions about their players, but I'm surprised that a suspicion wasn't raised. It's similar to the steroids controversy  with its "don't ask, don't tell" mentality?

I think the big problem with the system is the fact that the colleges will receive the penalty and the players will walk away without a scratch.  While it's the universities' job to make sure their athletes are clean and infraction-free, it's not out of the question to hold the players accountable for their actions.

Should players be made to pay a penalty for this?  While they're off making millions of dollars at the next level, they certainly have the money to pay a penalty.  I don't know how else to hit the players where it hurts, because they can't lose eligibility and money is no longer a factor.    

Is the NCAA going to have to start investigating players while they're in high school to prevent this from getting worse?