The day after USC’s football (and basketball) program faced some of the NCAA’s most severe punishment, short of the death penalty—following a four year probe into improper benefits for 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and former "once and done" basketball player O.J. Mayo—Matt Billings, USC’s Director of Compliance, claims that five universities have improperly contacted Freshmen RB Dillon Baxter to gauge his interest in transferring in light of USC’s probation.
If true, which at least two institutions, Florida and Oregon, have already denied, five more schools—Alabama, Fresno State, Washington, as well as the afore mentioned Florida, and Oregon—could be facing some NCAA questioning of their own.
Since Baxter is already enrolled at USC as a full-time student he could only transfer if he is willing to sit out a year.
Moreover, any contact with other institutions MUST be initiated by the student (NCAA rule 14.5.2).
Upperclassmen—juniors and seniors—may be contacted by other schools according to an email from NCAA spokeswomen Stacey Osburn sent to ESPN’s Joe Schad.
However, the new school would have to request a waiver to the ‘"year in residence" clause but the NCAA rules allow for the waiver if a student-athlete's first school has a postseason ban in their sport.
The "fly in the ointment" is that the Pac-10 does not intend to allow the waiver if the athlete is transferring to another Pac 10 school according to ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The offending institutions could play dumb and say they thought the waiver could be applied to all USC athletes, but that would be about as believable as Lane Kiffin claiming that he didn’t initiate any contact with Tennessee players or recruits when he was employed by USC, and on his way off of the riotous Knoxville campus back in January.
So, is this poetic justice or just another case (or five) of thuggery and skull-duggery in college football?
With the pillaging of the Big XII and other conferences under way, the back stabbing and rivalry busting that is inevitable in the superconference debate and USC’s beat down by the NCAA; these accusations may be flying under the radar.
Nonetheless, if true the NCAA needs to make an example of these schools.
The severity of the actions and penalties may not compare to USC’s crimes but they too should face appropriate sanctions.
If they are not true then Baxter, or whoever put him up to the false report, should face further sanctions.
Someone is lying, let’s just hope it doesn’t take the boys at the (NCAA) home office in Indianapolis another four years to get to the bottom of it!
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon, ESPN's Joe Schad, Bleacher Report’s Lisa Horne.