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Monday, June 14, 2010

USC Football sanctions: some donors point to Mike Garrett and Pete Carroll

In the wake of the NCAA's sanctions against USC for alleged violations in its football and basketball programs, and as USC's athletic administration led by USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett, digs in, circles the wagons, and prepares for an appeal, some USC donors who talked to this blogger are not pleased at all with the situation, and are using it to speak their displeasure with not just USC's Garrett, but former USC Football Coach Pete Carroll.

One donor who's met Carroll several times, has had a major role in giving to the USC program, and has been a visitor to the USC Football practices on several occasions said on Sunday "I could just walk into the practices and no one asked who I was. I could have had a $1,000 cash and no one would know."

The USC donor says that while Pete Carroll claimed disappointment with the NCAA action, and lack of knowledge of how the actions that were the focus of the punishment could have happened, on some level it was hard to see how he could not know or have some idea that something was going on with Reggie Bush. After all, he was the head coach. "This puts a cloud over everything that's happened in the past," my USC donor friend said.

Another USC Donor friend, in a conversation Saturday in San Francisco's Marina District, said "I think Mike Garrett should go" but focused more on their dislike for Garrett's style rather than any substantive argument. Still, it's clear the NCAA sanctions against USC have given Mike Carrett's enemies reason to strike, and they're doing so.

Mike Garrett, for his part, is fighting back, according to ESPN's Diamond Leung. In a blog, Diamond Leung noted that Garrett "had this to say when I approached him before the start of the event: “No comment. Don’t bother me. The world is great.” Then Leung noted "While walking away with associates, he (Garrett) said, 'Don’t talk to that guy. He’s the press.'"

Mike Ornstein
Garrett's best action is openness - with his friends, his enemies, and the press. It's not fair that Garrett's left to fight the USC battle alone while Pete Carroll escapes scot free. The word that's coming in here is that Mike Ornstein (currently working with 49ers Legend Joe Montana), may have been asked by Pete Carroll to work with his football program.

The possible smoking gun rests in the USC Public Infractions Report that you can download here and which reads in part:


There was information in the record that the former head football coach encouraged sports marketer A to hire student-athletes as interns. A current NFLPA certified agent ("sports agent B") is the chairman of a sports agency and a colleague of sports marketer A. He reported that the former head football coach asked sports marketer A to consider hiring football student-athletes as interns in his agency. Sports agent B reported:

(Sports marketer A) was like, „yeah, here's (the former head football coach) and the year before, he, he's tryin' to get me to hire, you know, three players, you know.‟

...How many players, I don't even know, maybe he tried to get him to hire ten....but it was totally agreed upon between (the former head football coach) and (sports marketer A) that there was an internship program for that summer. That's all I do know.

At the hearing, the former head coach denied that he asked sports marketer A to hire football student-athletes as interns, although he acknowledged that he knew sports marketer A and that he (sports marketer A) had "something about his past the years before that had gone wrong . . . (and) it was related to the NFL.”

[Note: At the hearing the institution's general counsel reported that, in 1995, sports marketer A had "pleaded guilty to mail fraud for defrauding the NFL."]


The "sports marketer" referred to is Mike Ornstein, as revealed in a 2007 SPORTS by BROOKS blog post.  Mike told this blogger he was working on behalf of Joe Montana on the Red Carpet of The 2010 NFL Draft in this video at the 26 second mark:



In retrospect, it did not occur to me to ask Mike about the USC issue at the time and until three hour later after the NFL Draft started when it fully dawned on me that Mike Ornstein was the Mike Ornstein. But then, there were a number of "seasoned sports journalists" there, who didn't ask him any questions at all; I asked about sports marketing in this economic climate.

I digress.  Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll should come out and say what he knows, because its clear he knows something and time will reveal what that is.  By not saying anything, Pete Carroll places Mike Ornstein in the position of being able to "out" Carroll if he wants to.   If Ornstein denies that Carroll asked him to participate in the football program, the question is "If not Pete, then who did?"  

This story gets more complicated with every turn.

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