The allegations are contained among hundreds of Scott Schenter's county work emails that suggest the former appraiser provided football star Joe McKnight with a car and an airline ticket, and basketball player Davon Jefferson with about $3,700 in cash. The Times obtained the emails from the assessor's office under the California Public Records Act.
The NCAA has apparently already been notified of the allegations by the Trojan administration.
Schenter, currently charged with giving improper tax breaks as part of a growing scandal, has had a run-in with USC and the NCAA before. In 2009, his relationship with McKnight was looked into after the running back was seen by an LA Times reporter driving a Land Rover registered to the Schenter. The school and NCAA investigated but no violation was brought forward.
"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," athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "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
The Times obtained an email from Delta Air Lines to Schenter from 2008 that was apparently a receipt for a $625 flight with a passenger listed as "Joe McKnight."
It's unclear why Schenter would help the two athletes, or where the $80,000 per year property appraiser would have obtained the money. But in the emails, Schenter says he was trying to start several private business ventures and hoped Jefferson and McKnight would help him market them. His connection, if any, to USC is also unclear. He describes himself in the emails as a fan of the University of Washington, a Pac 12 rival to USC.
Schenter has pleaded not guilty to 60 counts of falsifying records but faces significant jail time if convicted for his role in the corruption scandal at the L.A. assessor's office.
USC is currently ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and are still on NCAA probation from the Reggie Bush case. The Trojans open the 2012 season, their first in two years where they are eligible for the postseason, against Hawaii on Saturday evening.