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Floyd says he'd recruit Mayo again

3/31/2010

New UTEP coach Tim Floyd spoke to SIRIUS XM's Gary Williams today and launched into an impassioned defense of the recruitment of O.J. Mayo, which led to USC self-imposing sanctions this season and also the school having to face the NCAA infractions committee last month.

Floyd, despite continuing his criticism of former boss Mike Garrett, said he was "proud" of the job that USC did in researching Mayo before he starred for the Trojans and the school discovered that NCAA rules had been broken.

"Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely," said Floyd, who has been accused of making a direct cash payment to a Mayo associate. "Because O.J. is a very good person. He's a very good player. And there is an underground economy in our sport. And I'm not saying anything about the case. Nothing about the case. But if anybody thinks that O.J. Mayo, with his talents, was bought for $1,000, you're out of your damn mind. It’s just absolutely preposterous. And my name being associated with the recruitment of O.J. Mayo ... It makes no sense."

Floyd said that the "best vetting process in the world" is through the media and that he intentionally floated to the media the name Rodney Guillory in order to try to find out if the Mayo associate was a runner or an agent. Floyd said nothing of the sort ever came back to him in the time before Mayo arrived on campus. According to NCAA rules, Guillory was ultimately ruled a USC booster.

"Let me tell you something," Floyd said. "If you think that I made the decision for O.J. Mayo to come on his own, you would be wrong. This was five months after Reggie Bush, OK? Everybody was on high alert, and I'm really proud of how USC conducted their business.

"Were we suspicious? Everybody, everybody in college basketball is suspicious of everybody," Floyd said. "That's just the way it is. You have to be. But he [Mayo] was vetted by the NCAA as well. The same man doing the investigation of SC is the same man who vetted him through the amateurism committee and talked to him and Rodney Guillory for three hours. They cleared him to play."

Floyd said he hadn't commented much on the case until now because he didn't want to scare off potential employers for his next coaching job. He also continued to criticize Garrett, USC's athletic director, for his lack of support after accusations were made against him.

"I do feel like it was the most difficult thing I've ever had to go through," Floyd said. "But I made a decision to leave USC because I was branded by my athletic director, and I was just uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, and if you've ever had a boss you didn't want to work for, if you want to stay there and work for him, that's your choice. At this point in my life, I did not have to. And I'm really extremely proud of the job that I did there and at other universities. And the fact that I've never, ever been accused of anything.

"There was a degree of misrepresentation and misportraying and just throwing things out there and hoping I would react, and it would stick. ... I fought it where I needed to fight it. And I'm going to come out on the good end of this."