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Pat Haden Responds To New USC Allegations On Sports Central

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says USC will investigate a Los Angeles Times report claiming two Trojans athletes received gifts from an employee of the Los Angeles County assessor’s office.

The Times reported Saturday that former tailback Joe McKnight and former men’s basketball player Davon Jefferson apparently received a car, an airline ticket and cash from Scott Schenter.

The former appraiser is under investigation in an apparently unrelated scandal at the assessor’s office. His interest in the two athletes wasn’t immediately apparent.

Haden says USC investigated reports of McKnight using a Land Rover registered to Schenter in 2009. The school worked with the NCAA, which didn’t process a violation.

“As you well aware, this happened long before I became athletics director. As I understand it, those allegations of 2009 were completely vetted by the Pac-12, NCAA,” he told CBS 2’s Jim Hill just before USC’s game against Hawaii. “If there are new allegations, we will absolutely investigate them. We’ve already contacted the Pac-12, NCAA and we’ll do whatever is required.”

Haden says the school wasn’t aware of additional gifts to the two athletes. USC already has discussed the report with the NCAA and Pac-12.

“The interesting thing about this is these are allegations that pre-date the probation that USC is on. The NCAA does have a four–year statue, so they are within that window if the NCAA finds that these violations have occurred,” said LA Times beat writer Gary Klein said on Sports Central. “If the NCAA does find that there were violations, there’s a whole range of things that could happen. They could do something as simple as a public censure, all the way to more loss of scholarships and bowl bans. Those are within the penalties that are available to the NCAA”

Haden replaced Mike Garrett in July 2010.

PAT HADEN’S STATEMENT

In regards to a story reported by the Los Angeles Times that former USC football player Joe McKnight and former men’s basketball player Davon Jefferson received gifts from a person in the Los Angeles County assessor’s office, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden released this statement.

“When allegations regarding Joe McKnight’s use of a Land Rover arose in 2009, USC fully investigated the matter.  All of the information related to the investigation was sent to the NCAA.  The NCAA staff accepted the report, and no violation was processed.

“We have just learned of new allegations presented by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times.  We have discussed those allegations with the NCAA and PAC-12, and we will thoroughly investigate them and take any and all necessary actions.

“Since my 2010 appointment as USC’s Athletic Director, in conjunction with USC President Max Nikias and Dave Roberts, our Vice President for Athletic Compliance, we have diligently worked to enhance a culture of compliance throughout the Athletic Department and the University.  We have been a national leader in athletic compliance matters, holding national conferences on issues impacting intercollegiate athletics such as agents, non-scholastic football 7 on 7 competition, high-profile student-athletes and other issues.  These events were attended by representatives of the NCAA, Pac-12, professional sports leagues, collegiate conferences and Division I institutions.  We have increased the staff in our Office of Athletic Compliance and we will continue to stress and emphasize rules education and compliance to all of our constituents, including our student-athletes and their relatives, coaches and University staff, alumni, boosters and the media.  Just last week, as the fall sports season kicked off, Dave Roberts and I met again with our football team and staff to discuss and emphasize the importance of these rules and the need to be ever-vigilant in fulfilling our compliance obligations.  Similar meetings will be held with all of our athletic teams this fall.

“I can personally assure you that USC takes its compliance obligations with NCAA and Pac-12 rules extremely seriously and we are dedicated to playing and competing the right way.”

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