NCF Nation: USC-NCAA meeting

TEMPE, Ariz. -- And after three days, they rested. Their case.

USC's hearing before the NCAA infractions committee ended at 6:30 p.m., local time, Saturday, after nine hours of deliberation.

A hotel worker strained to roll away an overloaded cart of documents that included seven boxes and two massive bound folders that contained USC's responses to allegations of NCAA violations for the football and basketball programs.

To be accurate, USC was done -- football coach Lane Kiffin quickly said goodbye and raced to a town car so he could catch a flight back to L.A. -- but the infractions committee's work continued into the evening.

USC's ultimate fate still requires a verdict, which will require further deliberation for the infraction committee at another location. The ultimate ruling won't be made public until a final report is completed. That typically takes six to 10 weeks.

NCAA officials refused to comment afterwards, and USC officials weren't much more forthcoming.

"I can't even say no comment on no comment," USC president Steven Sample joked with reporters, then added. "It will come out. It will be great."

Said USC spokesperson James Grant, "We've been asked by the chairman of the committee not to discuss the proceedings. But we do want to thank the committee and NCAA staff and everyone involved for these proceedings and we are pleased we were able to present our side of the events and we look forward to an outcome and to moving on."

The first two days of the hearings focused on football, with Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair seemingly spending the most time being questioned. McNair reportedly was aware of a relationship between former running back Reggie Bush and a pair of aspiring agents who allegedly provided him with cash and gifts that would break NCAA rules against athletes receiving "extra benefits."

Basketball was the subject on Saturday, with former Trojans coach Tim Floyd appearing before the committee.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported in May of 2008 that former basketball player O.J. Mayo accepted cash and gifts -- extra benefits -- from Rodney Guillory, who was connected to Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management. Moreover, Floyd was alleged to have provided a $1,000 cash payment to help steer Mayo to USC, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

"We got the opportunity to present our side of the case," said one of Floyd's lawyers, Jim Darnell.

USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.

However USC chose to contest the allegation against the football program, its ultimate goal is to overcome the perception of a lack of institutional control, which could result in significant sanctions, including scholarship reductions, TV and postseason bans, recruiting restrictions and probation.

Moreover, if USC is found guilty of major violations, the NCAA also could rule that the Trojans are "repeat violators." Per NCAA rules, "An institution shall be considered a 'repeat' violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty."

The athletic program was last sanctioned in August of 2001, so if the Bush allegations are found to be major violations, they would fall within that time frame.

So a lot is at stake.

David Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement, wouldn't discuss any details of the case but he admitted the hearings were "the longest in my 11 years" as an NCAA enforcement officer.

USC athletic director Mike Garrett's only comment afterwards probably reflected sentiments shared by all participants on both sides of the conference room.

"I'm glad it's over," Garrett said.

Of course, it won't be over until the NCAA finally sings.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- After nearly eight hours in front of the NCAA infractions committee, former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd, carrying a folder overflowing with hastily gathered papers, walked out of a conference room at the Marriott "The Buttes" resort and shared a handshake and what appeared to be a warm exchange with new Trojans football coach Lane Kiffin.

Floyd hopes the hearing and the handshake afterwards aren't his last contact with college coaching, which is one of the reasons he attended the hearing.

[+] EnlargeTim Floyd
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesFormer USC basketball coach Tim Floyd met with the NCAA infractions committee for nearly eight hours on Saturday.
The other?

"It's the right thing to do," he said.

Floyd, now an assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets, was shortly hustled away by his lawyers, Jim Darnell and David Scheper, into a waiting elevator.

Floyd appeared before the committee because ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported in May, 2008, that his former player, O.J. Mayo, accepted cash and gifts from Rodney Guillory, who was connected to Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management. Moreover, Floyd was alleged to have provided a $1,000 cash payment to help steer Mayo to USC, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

His lawyers said their intention was to present their side of the case and clear Floyd's name. They said they felt the hearing was fair. While they wouldn't talk about what went on behind closed doors -- or whether things got contentious -- they admitted there were some unexpected twists.

"Over eight hours there are always surprises," Darnell said. "But nothing that big of a deal."

As far as their odds of success, Darnell said he didn't have "the slightest idea."

"I'll know that in two months," he said.

USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.

While the details aren't available -- USC's status as a private institutions allows it to keep NCAA allegations from public scrutiny -- it's fair to say USC's version of events and Floyd's version don't match.

In fact, in recent interviews with the LA Times and New Orleans Times-Picayune, Floyd talked about how he believed USC athletic director Mike Garrett made him the program's scapegoat.

"Mike's reputation took precedence over the truth," he told the newspapers.

Floyd and his lawyers left at 3:30 p.m., local time, but the hearings continued.

Former football coach Pete Carroll was interviewed on Thursday. Current running backs coach Todd McNair, who allegedly was aware of former running back Reggie Bush's dealings with a couple of would-be sports agents, was interviewed Thursday and all day Friday.

When the committee is finished with USC, it will reconvene -- at an "undisclosed location," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said -- to evaluate the testimony and reach a verdict.

That could last well into the evening, and it remains possible that the committee won't be able to finish its business.

But, when the elevator doors closed behind Floyd, the last of the star witnesses departed.

USC's infractions case is a long one

February, 20, 2010
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- You don't get much information out of NCAA folks during an infractions hearing, but David Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement, did enlighten reporters as to where USC's case stands, at least in terms of the time commitment this weekend.

He called the hearings "the longest in my 11 years" as an NCAA enforcement officer.

After two days inside a conference room, it's possible the hearings will extend into the night of Day 3, which means many participants will miss their outgoing flights. And it's possible not all business will be completed.

Considering the investigation began in 2006 after Yahoo! Sports reported Trojans running back Reggie Bush and his family were provided cash and gifts -- extra benefits -- by a pair of would-be sports agents who wanted to represent Bush when he turned pro, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that untangling the web is taking a long time.

Floyd the star of USC hearings, Day 3

February, 20, 2010
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- After an early start, 7:30 a.m. local time, USC and the NCAA infractions committee took Day 3's second break just before 11 a.m., with a dour looking Tim Floyd, the Trojans former basketball coach, ambling outside and into the rain for an animated whisper conversation with one of his lawyers, Jim Darnell.

After two days of football, it's on to hoops, though football coach Lane Kiffin remains inside the meeting room, as he has the previous two days.

Floyd is here because ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported in May, 2008 that his former player, O.J. Mayo, accepted cash and gifts from Rodney Guillory, who was connected to Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management. Moreover, Floyd was alleged to have provided a $1,000 cash payment to help steer Mayo to USC, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

USC's already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.

The NCAA could accept these penalties against the basketball program or decide to augment them. And they could rope them together with alleged football violations and find USC lacked institutional control -- which could mean severe penalties for both programs as well as the athletic department as a whole.

Kiffin asked reporters for an update on the day's sports news. The conversation briefly turned to Tiger Woods before he had to return to meetings. The hearing could last well into the evening as the infractions committee tries to cover all aspects of the alleged violations before heading back to Indianapolis.

The LA Times noted that coaches are often compelled to sit in during these hearings, even if they aren't a centerpiece of the investigation, because it serves as a sort of "scared straight" program.

That, and from most of the participants' expressions, bored straight.

It's likely many of these people will have endured perhaps 30 hours of detailed and sometimes ponderous discussion before heading home.

Floyd is represented by two men, Darnell and David Scheper. USC fans might find it interesting that Scheper is a Notre Dame Law School alumnus, class of 1985.

The final portion of the day's business doesn't involve USC. When all questioning is complete, the infractions committee will hash over testimony, attempt to reach a verdict and, ideally, decide who will write the final report.

It's possible that the committee won't complete its process on Saturday. They may ask for more from USC and may need additional meetings later.

On average, most reports are completed within six to 10 weeks of the infractions hearing. But that time frame could extend longer for a complicated case.

Probably fair to say this is a complicated case.

USC, NCAA in overtime

February, 19, 2010
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- USC and the NCAA infractions committee took a break around 5:30 p.m., but it doesn't appear the evening is over.

What might be over is two days of questioning for USC running backs coach Todd McNair, who exited the hearing with his lawyer into a waiting elevator while the rest of the crew returned to the meeting room.

Representatives for Trojans basketball coach Tim Floyd showed up in the mid-afternoon but didn't join the hearing. They later confirmed that they and Floyd would not meet with the committee on Friday.

So it would be fair to say the first two days have been dominated by issues with the football program, and basketball won't take center stage until Saturday.

The infractions committee will push to finish the hearings on Saturday. The meetings won't run on Sunday, NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said. If there's unfinished business, then the committee would schedule a new meeting with USC.

That's a worst-case scenario, though.

What's more likely is a long evening tonight and perhaps also one on Saturday.

Are USC and NCAA still talking football?

February, 19, 2010
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- USC and NCAA infraction committee members returned from their lunch break around 1:30 p.m. local time, as did Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair.

McNair is an important figure because it has been alleged that he was aware of former running back Reggie Bush's dealings with a couple of would-be sports agents.

While an NCAA spokesperson noted that McNair's presence in the room for a second day doesn't necessarily mean he is still being questioned, it seems meaningful that former basketball coach Tim Floyd apparently hasn't yet appeared before the committee.

While no one will go on record as to what is going on behind closed doors, it appears that football remains the committee's focus after a day-and-a-half of proceedings that are scheduled to last through Saturday.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- They shuffled by at 5:30 p.m. local time, sharing a message for those who might wonder how things went during USC's meeting with the NCAA infractions committee on Thursday.

"No comment."

Said USC athletic director Mike Garrett, "I can say hello. I can say goodbye."

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was amused by a reporter's attempt to chat about how things might be going for USC as it defended itself against alleged NCAA rules violations for its football and basketball teams. "Thanks for asking," he said.

USC president Steven B. Sample enjoyed a cookie and used a pregnant pause to support his quip that he wasn't even going to say no comment.

The silence wasn't terribly surprising.

"We have been instructed by the chair of the proceedings not to discuss the proceedings," USC spokesperson James Grant said.

That would be former Miami athletic director Paul Dee, who slipped by before a reporter collecting various forms of "no comment" could acquire his.

So what can we say about Day 1 of USC's hearing, which will continue Friday and Saturday?

Former USC coach Pete Carroll was in attendance. He said he was leaving Thursday night and headed to LA for a charity event.

That, paired with the apparent absence of former Trojans basketball coach Tim Floyd as well as the presence of running backs coach Todd McNair, would suggest strongly that football was the focus of the first day. And that Carroll and McNair answered question about their knowledge of extra benefits former running back Reggie Bush allegedly received from a pair of would-be agents, among other things.

New football coach Lane Kiffin, sporting an impressive suit that Carroll took a moment to admire, also was on hand. He provided the day's best -- only -- analysis when he called the interaction inside the meeting "interesting" but the expressions of most folks' faces when they left the meeting room suggested that even James Cameron couldn't make the proceedings lively.

The big question for Day 2?

Will Floyd and the basketball program take the stage? Or will football still lead the agenda?

According to a source with knowledge of the proceedings.

"No comment."

It's lunchtime for USC and NCAA

February, 18, 2010
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Pete Carroll didn't seem stressed at all. Bored, but not stressed.

USC's hearing with the NCAA infractions committee broke for lunch at noon, and Carroll stopped by for a brief chat about the Seattle Seahawks and being back in the NFL.

Not surprisingly, he said he's not going to talk about what happened inside the secret hearing.

Carroll didn't have to appear here, something he made note of: "I'm being a good soldier," he said.

He said he was leaving Thursday afternoon. Carroll will be in L.A. this weekend for his A Better LA charity event.

So that means he will be interviewed by the NCAA today. The gist, of course, will be what he knew of former running back Reggie Bush's dealings with would-be agents. And if he should have known.

Carroll has long contended that he knew nothing.

It's likely that Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair, who is also on hand but refused comment, will face tough questioning on the Bush matter. One of Bush's former agent suitors, Lloyd Lake, who is embroiled in a contentious lawsuit with Bush, has claimed that McNair was aware of his association with Bush.

After chatting, Carroll bolted for lunch with Lane Kiffin.

Carroll proposed that Kiffin would be buying.

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