Andre DeSaussure of Taft High, runner-up in the boys' 400 meters in last year's state track and field championships, figured he had all his bases covered when he ran a leg on a 400-meter relay team in the Quincy Watts invitational at USC last month.
However, the Trojans have interpreted DeSaussure's actions as a violation of NCAA rules, they said in a statement, "because a prospect competed in the same heat as collegiate athletes and that can be construed as a tryout.
"USC has ceased recruiting him and has declared him ineligible to participate in athletics at USC. But USC is petitioning the NCAA to restore his eligibility to participate in athletics at USC."
The possible rules violation occurred March 26 when DeSaussure ran a leg on a 400-meter relay team that included Watts, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 and 1,600 relay.
Because the unattached team--which finished in second place--competed in a race that included teams from USC, Fresno State, Boise State and Iowa, DeSaussure's appearance could be interpreted a violation of an NCAA rule that prohibits schools from holding tryouts for a "prospective student-athlete."
Article 126.96.36.199 of the NCAA Constitution describes a prospect as "any individual who has started classes for the ninth grade and is not enrolled in the member institution at the time of the practice or test therein described."
DeSaussure, the 1993 City Section champion in the 100, 200 and 400, could not be reached for comment.
Roger Lipkis, his personal coach, said that USC's actions surprised him because he and fellow coaches checked with both the California Interscholastic Federation and the NCAA compliance office to make sure DeSaussure would not break any rules by competing in the meet.
"We were told that everything was OK or we never would have let him run in the meet," Lipkis said.
Although DeSaussure has yet to make a commitment or sign a letter of intent, he has said that USC tops the list of schools recruiting him.
He has taken trips to Washington and Arizona, but his heart seems set on playing football and running track at USC, Watts' alma mater.
DeSaussure has personal bests of 10.72 seconds in the 100, 21.1 in the 200 and 47.11 in the 400.
As a wide receiver in football, he had 27 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns last season.