Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mayo a statistic; Trojan basketball a tragedy

I guess I should be surprised with the new allegations against O.J. Mayo and the USC basketball program, but I’m not. Eyebrows were raised, before he ever arrived in Southern California. Here we had one of the top prep basketball players in America choosing a football school. That was already an immediate red flag. Mayo had a choice of any program in America, including perennial powers Duke, North Carolina, and the Trojan rival across town, UCLA. He announced that he would attend the University of Southern California, and I asked myself why.

Before his arrival, he even stated that he would give the Trojans one year to improve the team around him, before deciding if he would remain in Los Angeles or jump to the NBA. But the true statement would have been that he was going to play the year and determine his NBA value, before opting to run with his worth or stay and improve on it. He served his one year sentence, as I like to call it, since the NBA punishes star athletes with their under 19 rule, forcing them to either sit out and wait or play at the lower level without compensation.

Mayo is now a statistic, as I personally believe the allegations to be true. I find truth in it, because I know the work of basketball pimps that scour the nation’s high schools for hoes. The story broke, and people were buzzing about ESPN’s “outside the lines” segment that I had yet to see. I eventually saw the second showing of the episode, and the show mapped it out as I know it from experience.

Unless a kid has a family that can offer financial security throughout their collegiate years, the temptations will be there, and that player is a prime candidate for pimping. In many cases, we have superstars on the college courts and fields that can’t even afford a ticket to the movies on off days. The NCAA restricts seasonal employment, because your job is to be the money maker for these greater pimps. They label them as “student athletes”, but they are, in truth, “athletic students”. You have 2 jobs, maintain eligibility with class work, and then go out there and use your talents to increase the programs profits.

USC should have known better, especially with the Bush allegations still ripe. I can’t see how the school could not have knowledge of Mayo’s relationship with this ever-present “mentor”. Unlike the Bush allegations, which seem to identify transactions involving his parents in San Diego, we have Mayo on campus and a paper trail across the city that his mentor left behind. At some point, someone had to ask and wonder why Rodney Guillory was always there. I’m sure someone did, and I’m pretty sure those inquirers let it pass.

Prepare yourselves for the woeful days of Trojan basketball to return. And if you’re head Coach Tim Floyd, now would be a good time to start updating and preparing job resumes. As the L.A Times reports, the future may appear as this:

A compliance director for another West Coast university, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to comment about other schools, said potential penalties facing USC would hinge on whether school officials were aware of wrongdoing. Penalties could include forfeiture of victories, probation, loss of television appearances, scholarship losses or other recruiting restrictions.

Lil Romeo should just back out of his commitment now, unless he wants his basketball talents shelfed with what's left of his music career.

All kids won’t succumb to the instant fortunes being served up by sports pimps, just as all programs don’t have these pimps hidden in the Shadows. But the truth is, many kids, and many programs do. And both will spend many years getting away with it, until that one person slips or one reporter digs too deep. The athlete then moves on to professional glory, and the school left behind becomes the casualty. It’s just the way of the amateur world.

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