Open Mic: OJ Mayo and USC Victims of Flawed System?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IMay 13, 2008

OJ Mayo, Tim Floyd and the rest of the USC basketball program should be looking back on this year celebrating their successes: The NCAA tournament bid, the win against K-State and the multiple top 25 appearances throughout the season.  Instead, thanks by and large to a disgruntled associate of Mayo's they'll be getting dragged through the mud by anyone not associated with the program. 

Tim Floyd won't be parlaying Mayo's stint on campus into recruiting gold, instead he'll be greeted with NCAA sanctions and forced to make lengthy explanations about his willingness to add Mayo to his team.

As an almost sure lottery pick Mayo won't be hoisted up as the Prince of Troy rather he'll be grilled and raked over the coals for actions that occurred during his lone college season. 

Its quite easy to make these two the scapegoat and watch as the USC basketball program stands at the guillotine with the NCAA as the judge, jury and executioner. But, before we condemn Mayo and Floyd to be sacrificed at the NCAA altar take a long, hard look at the third player in this delicate dance; Bill Duffy and his business enterprise BDA Sports Management.

For me this runs eerily similar to a drug deal. Yes, Mayo chose to buy the drugs [take the money] and sure Tim Floyd and his mother could've done a better job of trying to stop him from taking drugs [stopped him from taking gifts]. Robert Guillory simply offered him some really good drugs [plasma tv] at a really good price [$30,000], luring a kid down the wrong path and Bill Duffy and BDA sat on the mountain top watching another victim get addicted to their product [sign with their agency].

BDA used Guillory as their pusher, their middle man. BDA paid the money to court the young superstar. BDA is the reason that Mayo was lead down the wrong path and BDA is the culprit responsible for the NCAA rules violations surrounding USC's basketball program.

This is the same case we've seen plenty of times; Players, Coaches and Schools lose their awards, forfeit games, lose scholarships and face probation for violations while the agencies that broker the deals are allowed to operate with complete disregard for the rules.

The NCAA is a purely reactionary body in this respect as they rely on anonymous tips and self reporting to bring wrong doings to their attention. Generally this means it takes a rival school or a disgruntled entourage member to get the wheels turning on a possible NCAA task force investigation. This passive strategy allows for egregious violations to occur and go seemingly unnoticed[see UNLV and Michigan early 90's, UMass mid 90's and Miami in the 80's].

If the NCAA really wants to clean up college sports they need to take a strongly aggressive approach. Several steps that must be enacted include:

Expanding their agent watch task-force from a three person body to a major entity that is staffed in order to adequately police the agents involved in their money sports. 

Requiring both large agencies and independent agents to register with the NCAA, similar to their registration with the NFL-PA and the NBA-PA. 

Partnering with the PA's of the NFL and NBA in order to limit contact between agents and amateur athletes. This would include eliminating ground work being laid with high school kids and "runners" leading college players to specific agents.

Establish flat procedural guidelines for when, where and how often agents can contact players once they decide to enter the draft. Similar to high school athletes concerning recruiting dead periods and limited number of contacts and the method of contacts including who can call who.

With rules comes rule breakers and in order to make a situation stand up the NFL-PA and the NBA-PA would have to be fully supportive in their backing of the NCAA. Possible suspension of acquiring new clients, fines for agents contacting players during dead periods and revocation of licensing for repeat offenders would give the NCAA ruling body the teeth it needs to clean up sports.

I want sports to be clean, devoid of agents and NCAA infractions, my only problem is that the NCAA is crucifying schools, players and coaches when the truly evil players are the agents that escape unscathed. The kids are more victims than criminals or cheaters, they get lured into a lifestyle by people who they believe care about their well-being. Then they wake up one day and realize people like Guillory just latch on to the OJ Mayo's of the world for a free ride.

I'll leave you with my final thought, isn't the guy [BDA] supplying drugs far more heinous and culpable than the people he seduces into using them [OJ Mayo, Tim Floyd].