USC running back Dillon Baxter was quite the sensation on the field during spring practice, drawing comparisons to Reggie Bush in the process. Today, he’s creating quite the stir off the field. Kinda like Bush, actually, but in a much different regard for his football program.
According to a series of tweets from ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Baxter informed his school’s compliance department — they have one of those there? — that five schools illegally contacted him on June 10. The same day USC was slapped with heavy NCAA sanctions, incidentally.
Those five schools? Fresno State (???), Oregon, Washington and — the two biggest fish in this developing story — Alabama and Florida.
(I can hear Lane Kiffin snickering from here. Was that an “FU Urban’”I heard off in the distance, too…)
Bryan Fischer of USC’s Rivals.com site reports that, when a player from a school under a bowl ban is looking to transfer, “[the] athlete’s institution must be notified of the recruitment and may establish reasonable restrictions.” Fischer notes that the permission does not need to be in writing but needs to be made in some form, and that could be the issue in this situation.
As noted in an earlier post, because of the two-year bowl ban facing USC, juniors and seniors are fair game to be coached by any Div. 1-A school, with the exception of the Pac-10. Incoming freshman are poachable, but only with the restrictions noted by Fisher.
USC has asked the Pac-10 to contact those schools accused of allegedly illegally contacting Baxter.
Shortly after the Schad’s report came out, a Florida spokesperson denied any impropriety to the Orlando Sentinel. Neither Alabama nor any of the other schools named have issued denials as of this posting.
Given the fact that Alabama is currently on probation for their textbook scandal, expect their response — when it comes — to be very emphatic.
Obviously, we’ll have much more on this situation later on tonight and tomorrow morning.
UPDATED 10:41 p.m. ET: Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, by way of the Eugene Register-Guard, has responded to the accusations:
“No one at Oregon has talked or spoken with Dillon Baxter since his official visit in January.”
UPDATED 11:33 p.m. ET: USC director of compliance Matt Billings fired off a letter to Pac-10 Associate Commissioner for Governance and Enforcement Ron Barker — say that three times real fast. While real drunk — requesting some conference intervention, and here’s a portion of that missive:
“I just met with [Baxter] and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions [June 10th]. All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring from USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?”