USC: Student/agent warned
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- University of Southern California athletic department officials knew of 1st Round Enterprises and its NFLPA-certified CEO prior to the Thursday incident where freshman tailback Dillon Baxter solicited a free golf cart ride from the company's cart onto USC's campus, USC officials confirmed Sunday.
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Baxter was ruled ineligible Friday by USC, one day after he received the ride from 1st Round in what the school has determined to be a violation of NCAA rules concerning extra benefits. According to the school, USC vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts and senior associate athletic directors Mark Jackson and J.K. McKay met with the CEO and driver of the cart, Teague Egan, prior to Thursday and told him that a golf cart ride would be against NCAA rules.
"Approximately one week [before Baxter's golf cart ride], USC officials saw Egan in a golf cart on campus and met with him to inquire into his contacts with USC student-athletes," Roberts told ESPNLosAngeles.com Sunday. "At that time, Egan was asked not to provide any transportation or other benefits to student-athletes."
Reached by phone Sunday evening, Egan refused to comment on the veracity of Roberts' statement but did say that the ride was his "mistake."
"I don't want to blow things over, so I want to talk to them again before I say anything," said Egan. "It's never too late to say something."
USC self-reported the infraction and also filed an official request with the NCAA for Baxter's reinstatement. As part of the request, USC put a nominal value on the golf cart ride that Baxter would have to repay, Roberts said.
"We're hoping that that this is going to be the end of it and the NCAA will understand that we acted proactively and quickly," Roberts said Saturday, speaking to reporters before USC's game against Oregon State at Reser Stadium. "Obviously we'll take further action in this coming week to make sure that there are no other contacts between these people and our players."
USC coach Lane Kiffin said he didn't have anything new on Baxter's situation when asked about it Sunday.
"I would anticipate having a lot more information tomorrow when the NCAA offices open up," Kiffin said.
Kiffin reminded his players again "how everything is so big," he said. "You can't even take a ride in a cart for a block across campus. No matter who it is, whether it's a student or something, you just really can't do anything."
Egan, 22, is currently an undergraduate student at USC, according to official school records. His biography on the agency's website includes a claim that he has "befriended many athletes on the USC football team." 1st Round Enterprises is a student-run company that represents recording artists, promotes parties at local nightclubs in the Los Angeles area and lists itself as a provider of sports representation.
Egan and 1st Round are not believed to represent any professional athletes at this time. The agency's official site lists no clients, but Egan is registered as a contract advisor with the NFL Player's Association.
"As an contract advisor, I have never ever given a player money, anything of monetary value, or extra benefit not afforded to other students or my friends," Egan wrote in a statement to ESPNLosAngeles.com Saturday night. "We did not mean or intend to break any rules, and are truly sorry this instance got blown out of proportion."
Egan added: "To me, a golf cart ride wasn't an extra benefit, since I give 15-20 rides a day to all my friends to and from class. The question is would they consider riding on the handle bars of a bicycle against the rules? Say we all wanted to go to the movies together, would we have to take separate cars, and the player ride by himself? ... I wouldn't even buy a player's ticket to that movie. But a ride?"
Egan also said he plans on "fully cooperating with USC on any issue they might have." The two parties met Sunday in what Egan termed a "productive meeting."
Former Trojans linebacker Jordan Campbell, the first USC player to defect after sanctions were levied in the Reggie Bush scandal and who is now at Louisville, was listed as a partner on the agency's official site until late Saturday and was confirmed by Roberts as a principal with the company. Longtime NFL agent and current USC adjunct professor of law Fred Fenster is also listed as the legal senior adviser for the company.
Campbell and Fenster did not return phone calls and messages left for them Saturday.
Speaking to reporters in the Reser Stadium press box before Saturday's USC-Oregon State game, Roberts said USC notified both the NCAA and Louisville of Campbell's involvement with the company.
A Louisville spokesperson confirmed USC notified the school's compliance office on Friday.
"That's not per se our issue because he's no longer a student with us, but we're aware of the facts," Roberts said. "As we look into this, that'll be an issue to be considered."
Baxter did not practice Thursday after being hospitalized earlier in the day with an unspecified illness and dehydration. He entered the practice field roughly a half-hour before the session ended and appeared groggy.
Kiffin said then he was hopeful Baxter would play against the Beavers.
Also present on the practice field Thursday was Roberts, who rarely attends practice. He spoke to Kiffin on the field during the two-hour session and continued to observe happenings as the team practiced.
"Obviously we take this very serious," Kiffin said Friday in a video released on the school's website. "We talked to Dillon and Dillon didn't know that [the student was an agent], but we turned it in to the NCAA and, in the meantime, he won't be going with us."
Baxter, a top recruit out of Mission Bay High in San Diego, has already missed two games this season. He was suspended for the opener against Hawaii and missed the Cal game last month with a turf toe injury.
Attempts to reach Baxter were not returned.
USC was put under significant NCAA sanctions during the summer after a four-year investigation into the athletic department. The NCAA punished the Trojans for extra benefits allegedly provided to Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Bush by two aspiring sports marketers.
USC (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) is in the first season of a two-year bowl ban and four years of probation. The football program also lost 30 scholarships over the next three years.
Despite the sanctions and subsequent loss of several backup players who were allowed to transfer without losing a season of eligibility, USC is tied for third in the conference standings with three wins in its past four games. After traveling to Oregon State, the Trojans will finish their 13-game season against Notre Dame and UCLA.
Baxter is the Trojans' third-leading rusher with 248 yards and one touchdown, starting one game and emerging as Marc Tyler's primary backup. Baxter also has 11 receptions for 73 yards.
Pedro Moura is co-author of the USC blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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