Disputed phone call with Bush has USC investigating

LOS ANGELES -- The University of Southern California is looking into whether
it may have violated NCAA recruiting rules while pursuing highly
rated recruit Joe McKnight, a university official said.

McKnight signed a national letter of intent with USC on
Wednesday and made comments during a news conference that seemed to
suggest communications involving former Trojan Reggie Bush, who is
now with the New Orleans Saints.

Former players are forbidden from telephoning prospective
recruits, their relatives or guardians.

"We're aware of it, and we are looking into it," sports
information director Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press late

The university's action was first reported by the Los Angeles
Times on its Web site late Thursday.

USC coach Pete Carroll denied any call took place, and
McKnight's high school football coach said the recruit misspoke
during the news conference. The star running back has been living
with his high school coach, J.T. Curtis.

"It never happened," Carroll told the Times.

During the Wednesday news conference, McKnight said Carroll set
up a conference call so he and Curtis could talk to Bush and ease
concerns USC might face sanctions.

The NCAA and the Pac-10 Conference are investigating whether
Bush or his family received "improper benefits" from agents while
he was playing for USC.

Regarding McKnight, Mike Matthews, associate commissioner of
compliance for the Pac- 10, said boosters are not supposed to be
involved in the recruiting process but could not comment without
knowing specifics. NCAA spokeswoman Crissy Schluep also said she
could not comment without knowing more.

Curtis told the Times on Thursday that he spoke to Carroll
during McKnight's recruitment, but not on a conference call with
McKnight or Bush. He also said McKnight told him "Coach Carroll
was talking to Reggie on the speakerphone and Joe was able to
listen and hear Reggie Bush's side of the story," the newspaper

After being informed of Carroll's denial Thursday night, Curtis
called McKnight and later said the recruit never heard Bush on a

"He said when they came in his house, the discussion was
brought up about probation and that's when the conversation came up
that they had talked to Reggie, but Joe was not there," Curtis
said. "He said, 'I was not on the speakerphone. I never called him
and he never called me. I want to make it clear I never spoke to
Reggie and he never spoke to me. I just messed it up. I shouldn't
have said it that way [at the news conference].' "

Curtis said McKnight may have been overwhelmed by the attention
and scrutiny that accompanied his announcement.

"At the press conference, it seemed like he got 1,000 questions
in five minutes," Curtis said. "If you saw what was going on it
would be easier to understand."