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NCAA combining USC investigations


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ESPN.com news services

The NCAA has combined its investigations of two former USC star athletes into a single probe of the Trojans' athletic program, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In separate investigations, the NCAA has been looking into allegations that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and NBA lottery pick O.J. Mayo both received improper benefits while at USC.

The attorneys for Louis Johnson, a former associate of Mayo, said that in a meeting with a Pacific 10 Conference executive, they were told that the NCAA had combined the two probes into a larger investigation of whether USC had shown a lack of institutional control, according to the Times.

"It makes sense," attorney Anthony V. Salerno said, according to the Times. "The NCAA looks at the program as a whole, and you may be talking about systemic problems in these cases of payments by agents. Yes, these were different teams and coaches. Rather than do it piecemeal, look at the institution."

Salerno and David Murphy represent Johnson, a former associate of Mayo and Rodney Guillory, who Johnson says received more than $200,000 in cash and gifts from a representative of the BDA Sports Management agency and passed along some of those gifts to Mayo.

Bush is alleged to have accepted thousands of dollars in benefits for himself and his family in the form of rent owed on a home owned by would-be sports marketer.

Both athletes have said they did nothing wrong.

The NCAA and a Pac-10 investigator declined to comment, while Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hanson could not be reached for comment, the Times reported.

USC basketball coach Tim Floyd said he hasn't talked to the NCAA since May and has "never, ever heard" that the investigations were being combined, the Times reported. Football coach Pete Carroll could not be reached for comment, according to the report.

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