- Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Excuse me if I have a hard time digesting Tim Floyd's complaints about the lack of support he got from the USC athletic department at the end of his investigation-filled four-year stint as the USC men's basketball coach.
While the USC men's basketball team serves a one-year postseason ban along with other self-imposed sanctions, Floyd and O.J. Mayo, who are at the center of an ongoing NCAA investigation, embraced each other Wednesday night in New Orleans before playing each other. Floyd is now an assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets and Mayo is the starting shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The mess they left behind at USC is about 2,000 miles away and a seemingly forgotten memory at this point.
How else to explain both of their contentions that they did absolutely nothing wrong during their time at USC?
Apparently all the evidence of wrongdoing that USC found in its internal investigation was meaningless. The self-imposed sanctions on the men's basketball team after those findings were unnecessary. And there's nothing to worry about with the ongoing NCAA investigation into the matter.
Floyd resigned in June 2009 after allegations surfaced that he paid $1,000 to Mayo hanger-on, er, associate Rodney Guillory, who helped deliver Mayo to USC. When athletic director Mike Garrett announced self-imposed sanctions against the men's basketball program, he cited "Mayo's involvement with Rodney Guillory, whom under NCAA rules became a USC booster due to his role in Mayo's recruitment."
As part of its sanctions USC also vacated all wins during the 2007-2008 regular season, when Mayo competed while ineligible, and also returned the money it received through the Pac-10 for its participation in the 2008 men's basketball tournament.
Does anyone really think USC would go to such great lengths to exonerate itself from the situation if nothing happened or if it could cover up whatever happened?
Garrett can be criticized for his handling of a litany of events during his time at Heritage Hall, but when it comes to Floyd and his alleged indiscretions Garrett deserves some praise despite what Floyd thinks.
"Why I left was not in any way an admission of guilt," Floyd told the Times-Picayune. "It was a complete testament to a lack of support by my administration and how we were treated after four years of doing everything the right way. And that is what I've gone on record as saying. The day the story broke, my athletic director called me and asked me where I was. I happened to be in New Orleans after being there for seven months. He asked me if I'd read the story. I said, 'Yes. And I did not do what I'm accused of doing.' Two, 'Where are you?' 'I'm in New Orleans.' The third thing he said was, 'You need to get your ass back to Los Angeles, so I can decide what I'm going to do with you.'"
Floyd said that Garrett's comments "did not register well with me, did not sit well with me."
Really? Because if anyone else had been accused of committing a wrongdoing as egregious as Floyd had at his workplace and was 2,000 miles away from the scene when the story broke, chances are his boss wouldn't have been as cordial as Garrett in asking him to return to answer some serious questions.
Floyd, of course, didn't return. He stayed in New Orleans while the program he built on quicksand was sinking. Less than a month after he was accused by a one-time Mayo confidant of delivering an envelope full of cash to Guillory, he submitted a one-paragraph letter to Garrett saying he was quitting.
Well, he actually submitted his resignation to Garrett and the Clarion-Ledger, his hometown paper in Mississippi, and most within the USC athletic department found out about his departure when the paper posted it on its Web site and other media outlets picked it up. By then Floyd had already turned his cell phone off.
In his letter he wrote, "I intend to contact my coaching staff and my players in coming days and weeks to tell them how much each of them means to me." Yes, the man who is now complaining about the lack of communication his athletic director had with him did not even have the decency to contact his own coaching staff and players before quitting and leaving them to deal with the mess he was accused of creating at USC.
Floyd can deny his part in the unraveling of the USC men's basketball program all he wants. He'll never be forced to answer for his actions. But he knows that his time at USC came to an end not because of his relationship with Garrett, but because of the findings of USC's legal, compliance and athletic departments. His days at the school were numbered and he knew it.
When USC appears at a Feb. 19 hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Floyd will be where he was while his team was being dismantled and accusations were being levied against him. He'll be in New Orleans, 2,000 miles away, complaining that the people who now have to answer for his alleged indiscretions didn't support him.
Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
USC self-imposes sanctions while Tim Floyd lobs complaints from far away.