Still stinging from 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush's collegiate dealings with agents and marketing reps, Southern California can expect more NCAA scrutiny if star basketball recruit O.J. Mayo becomes a Trojan in 2007.
Mayo, who is expected to sign with USC in the spring if not during the early signing period next month, is being mentored by a Los Angeles-area promoter whom the NCAA labeled as an agent's representative in 2000. That was the year Mayo's new mentor, Rodney Guillory, helped get two college basketball players -- including one from USC -- suspended for several games.
|O.J. Mayo brings a world of talent and a whole lot of baggage to the collegiate ranks. (Getty Images)|
Guillory wants to become Mayo's marketing rep. Sound familiar? It was another marketing rep -- Mike Ornstein -- whose relationship with Bush triggered an NCAA investigation into USC.
Though the USC football team faces the possibility of having to vacate its 2004 national championship, pending the results of the NCAA's investigation, the USC basketball team faces the possibility of adding a player sure to draw the NCAA's attention. And people at USC don't want to talk about it.
USC athletic director Mike Garrett didn't return numerous calls and e-mails for this story. But Garrett did get the message to the USC coaching staff -- and eventually to Guillory himself -- that CBS SportsLine.com was investigating Mayo's relationship with Guillory.
How do I know? Guillory told me. Guillory also told me that he doesn't work for an agent, and that he has done nothing to compromise Mayo's eligibility.
"I have a relationship with him, but I don't have anything to do with him being eligible," Guillory said. "As long as O.J. does the right things, he has nothing to worry about."
Given Guillory's history, USC -- or whichever school signs Mayo -- will want to worry just a little bit.
The NCAA suspended Fresno State's Tito Maddox and Southern California's Jeff Trepagnier for nearly one-third of the 2000-01 season after determining that Guillory had purchased airfare for the players. The NCAA said that was a violation because Guillory was representing a sports agency.
Six years later Guillory has affixed himself to Mayo, a 6-foot-4 point guard from Huntington, W.Va., widely considered the No. 1 prospect in the high school class of 2007. Their relationship began in 2003, Guillory said, when he bumped into Mayo on an elevator at the Adidas ABCD camp. Since then Guillory has switched to Reebok, which has invited Mayo's high school and AAU teams to numerous events. Their relationship grew from there, Guillory said.
It grew to the point that Mayo, in an official program for USA Basketball's 2005 International Sports Festival, listed Guillory when asked to name "the most impressive person he's met." Mayo didn't return phone messages left with his coach at Huntington (W.Va.) High.
The Guillory-Mayo relationship is similar to that between former agent runner Eddie Lau and Louisville freshman Derrick Caracter, a relationship that was unveiled last year by CBS SportsLine.com. Last week the NCAA suspended Caracter for the first three games of this season for accepting more than $2,000 from Lau while in high school.