USC officials said Wednesday they are optimistic that defensive starters Israel Ifeanyi and Errick Herrin will be cleared by the NCAA to play against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Oct. 21.
The two defensive players and running back Shawn Walters were suspended Sept. 28 by the school for their alleged involvement with Robert Caron, an Oxnard sports agent.
The players allegedly received money and gifts, an NCAA violation.
Robert Lane, USC general counsel, said that the school expects to petition the NCAA to restore Herrin's eligibility by early next week. Herrin, a senior linebacker, will not play against Washington State Saturday.
Ifeanyi, a senior defensive end, was suspended for three games by the NCAA, but he will not automatically be eligible for the Notre Dame game because of another possible rules violation.
USC has asked the NCAA legislative services staff for an interpretation regarding payments from Ifeanyi's extended family in Nigeria.
"It's complicated in [that] the family lines are not as well defined as they are in the United States," Lane said.
He said that the school expects to hear from the NCAA by this weekend on Ifeanyi's case. USC will argue that no rules have been broken, although the organization has specific guidelines about which family members can support athletes.
Carrie Doyle, director of the NCAA eligibility committee, said the school can accept the finding of legislative services or appeal to the interpretations committee.
Walters, who allegedly received $15,900, according to a ledger acquired by The Times, is not close to regaining eligibility.
Walters told the Orange County Register that he hoped to get a bank loan to make restitution.
However, NCAA rules do not allow athletes to receive loans based on their potential earnings as professionals and there is no guarantee that Walters' action would restore his eligibility. Because of the alleged amount in Walters' case, his college career is in jeopardy.
"I don't know if I can get the money," Walters told The Register. "If I can't, then I guess I'm going to have to look at some other options, like the Canadian [Football] League."
USC also is negotiating with Caron's attorney to resolve a civil suit the school filed last week in L.A. County Superior Court. The school got a temporary restraining order to stop Caron from contacting its players. Lane said that USC hopes to gain an agreement from Caron by the end of the week.