USC has imposed sanctions on its men's basketball program for NCAA rules violations, including a ban on postseason competition at the end of this season, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.
The university said the self-imposed sanctions resulted from an internal investigation that found NCAA rules violations related to O.J. Mayo, who played for the Trojans during the 2007-2008 season under former coach Tim Floyd. Mayo is now with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
The sanctions are connected to Mayo's involvement with Rodney Guillory, who under NCAA rules became a USC booster due to his role in Mayo's recruitment.
In 2008, on ESPN's "Outside The Lines," Louis Johnson, a former associate of Mayo and Guillory, accused Guillory of providing Mayo with improper benefits while the guard played for USC.
Floyd abruptly quit in June following allegations that he gave $1,000 in cash to Guillory, who helped steer Mayo to the Trojans. Mayo was one of the nation's most highly-sought prep recruits at the time.
When asked Sunday if Mayo would provide a comment regarding USC's self-imposed sanctions, Grizzlies director of media relations Dustin Krugel referred all inquiries to Mayo's agent, LaPoe Smith. When reached by phone, Smith told ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Mayo "will have no comment at all" on USC's sanctions.
Reached Monday, Floyd told Naqi "because of the pending NCAA case, I can't comment." Floyd, now an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets, has never addressed the allegations involving Mayo.
Johnson, who told Naqi on Sunday that he had no comment on his role in sanctions, did say he was not surprised by the school's decision.
"I hope the NCAA doesn't come down harder than this. I feel bad for the [current players] and everyone who is going to have to go through this difficult period for their basketball program. It was never my intention to bring down the USC basketball program," Johnson said.
"[Current USC head coach Kevin] O'Neill and the guys got the program back to respectability when no one thought they had a chance to be respectable."
O'Neill told Naqi he first learned of the sanctions from USC athletic director Michael Garrett after Saturday night's game against Arizona State. O'Neill says he met with the USC players Sunday morning and called his recruits afterward.
The players were "stunned, shocked, disappointed" to learn of the sanctions, O'Neill said. The Trojans are 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 as of Sunday and have won eight straight games.
"[I] told them what the situation was and it was our expectation that they do the best job they can in the classroom and on the court moving forward," O'Neill said. "Nothing changes in our daily lives; it's just unfortunate that our last game is March 6th.
"The only real emotional part of this, this team has won eight in a row, has battled adversity all year long. It will test our mettle but I'm convinced they'll respond very well ... or as well as you could."
USC said it will vacate all wins during the 2007-08 regular season, which was when Mayo competed while ineligible. It will also return the money it received through the Pac-10 for taking part in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The Trojans went 21-12 (11-7 Pac-10) in 2007-08, Mayo's only year at USC, and reached the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing to Kansas State.
New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said the league has been working closely with USC and the NCAA in independent investigations of the Trojans' basketball program.
"USC's decision to self-impose aggressive penalties on itself is clear recognition of how seriously the university takes this matter and the sincere commitment of the athletic department, university leadership and new coach Kevin O'Neill to correct mistakes that were made in the past and to set the program on a track to maintain the highest standards expected of every institution in the Pac-10 and the NCAA," Scott said in the statement.
The sanctions affect only the men's basketball program. The university's football program is also under investigation for allegations that Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush received improper benefits while he played at the school.
"USC takes allegations of NCAA rules violations very seriously," Garrett said. "When allegations were made regarding our men's basketball program we immediately began an investigation and worked closely with the NCAA and the Pac-10 in an attempt to ascertain the truth. When we've done something wrong, we have an obligation to do something about it and that is exactly what we are doing here."
The self-imposed sanctions include:
" No postseason play in 2009-10, including the Pac-10 conference tournament.
" A reduction of one scholarship for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
" Reducing the number of coaches permitted to recruit off-campus by one during the summer of 2010.
" Reducing the number of recruiting days for the 2010-11 academic year to 110 from 130.
Information from ESPN's Kelly Naqi and The Associated Press was used in this report.