- Kelly Naqi
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Former Trojans guard O.J. Mayo refused to cooperate with USC in the university's investigation into allegations that he accepted improper gifts and benefits while he played for the school during the 2007-08 season, according to USC athletic director Mike Garrett.
"No, he has not participated," Garrett told ESPN's Shelley Smith on Wednesday. "But as you read in the paper, he says, you know, 'I love USC' and things like that so, that's about all I know about that."
On Jan. 3, USC announced that it had self-imposed sanctions on its men's basketball program for violating NCAA rules related to Mayo and his relationship with Rodney Guillory, a former runner for BDA Sports Management. The sanctions include a one-year ban on postseason play to be served this season, a reduction in scholarships and restrictions on recruiting. USC will also vacate its wins during the 2007-08 season and will return the money it received from participating in the NCAA tournament.
When asked what violations USC uncovered in its internal investigation of the basketball program, Garrett said, "We looked at sufficient evidence to say that ... maybe there is a sufficient connection between us and Guillory."
USC is scheduled to appear in a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Feb. 19. The NCAA is also investigating whether former Trojan and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush received extra benefits during his sophomore and junior seasons (2004-2005).
Garrett said USC has not self-imposed penalties on its football program because "we have some arguments there, and we'd like to present those arguments [to the NCAA Committee on Infractions]."
Mayo, who has maintained he never received any improper benefits, is in his second season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He has referred all questions on the matter to his agent, LaPoe Smith. According to an article published last week by the Los Angeles Times, LaPoe Smith said, "O.J. was totally in the dark about anything happening inappropriately at USC."
Smith, who was retained by Mayo last August, also told the Times that Mayo would cooperate in an investigation if he was provided specific information about which to respond. "We can't talk about innuendoes," Smith told the newspaper. "We're not going to do that. Provide us with some information ... They have to put this information on the table."
When reached by phone on Thursday morning and asked why Mayo did not cooperate with USC's internal investigation, Smith said, "We have no comment at all on this issue."
Kelly Naqi is a reporter in ESPN's enterprise unit.