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Herrin, Out 3 Games, Suspended for 2 More : USC: Linebacker says he is being made an example. Ifeanyi seeks restraining order to play against Notre Dame.

October 20, 1995|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC linebacker Errick Herrin lost two more games Thursday because of his involvement with a sports agent, but defensive end Israel Ifeanyi was hoping to get one back.

The NCAA suspended Herrin for five games, including three he has already missed. He will not be eligible to play until the game against Stanford on Nov. 4.

Ifeanyi, on the other hand, asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to grant a temporary restraining order that would let him play Saturday against Notre Dame.

Judge Robert H. O'Brien, who this month granted USC a restraining order barring agent Robert Troy Caron from contacting Trojan athletes, ruled Thursday that Ifeanyi could fly to South Bend, Ind., with the football team. He will decide today whether to grant Ifeanyi's request.

Ifeanyi named the NCAA and USC as defendants after he was declared ineligible for two games for accepting about $3,700 from members of his Nigerian tribe who are living in Los Angeles.

USC appealed the NCAA eligibility staff's decision by arguing that the Igbo tribe was practicing its customs in helping Ifeanyi. But that appeal was not heard because NCAA staff members discovered Wednesday that USC also had appealed a legislative service interpretation of the rule to the interpretations committee.

NCAA officials said the school had not acted in accordance with the organization's procedure. USC officials said they were told they could petition both bodies.

Robert Lane, USC general counsel, said the school approached both bodies because the interpretations committee does not meet until Monday, after the Notre Dame game.

Mark Wooster, Ifeanyi's attorney, said the player already has missed one game--against Washington State--for a rule violation that is being challenged.

"If the suspension is overturned, there will be no way to give him that game back," Wooster said. "So, we certainly don't want it to get worse."

In what could be a precedent-setting case, Ifeanyi is arguing that he did not break NCAA rules by accepting money from Nigerian expatriates.

In the complaint, Ifeanyi said he "has been discriminated against because of tribal culture of his people." He said other Nigerians have assisted him since he came to the United States in 1990.

Ifeanyi, an Orange Coast College transfer, said the support had nothing to do with his status as an intercollegiate athlete. One of the supporters, Paul Amuchie of Inglewood, wrote in a declaration, "I have absolutely no ties to USC; in fact, I am a strong supporter of UCLA."

NCAA investigators learned of Ifeanyi's support during interviews with the athlete about his connection to Caron, the Oxnard agent who allegedly paid college athletes to secure them as clients.

Ifeanyi was suspended for two games for accepting a pager, telephone credit card, a round-trip to Las Vegas and food from Melvin Nunnery, a recruiter for Caron. He was ordered to repay about $190.

Herrin, who also received a pager, telephone credit card and Las Vegas trip from Nunnery, started making restitution this month for a total officials said was more than Ifeanyi's.

"I am bitter," Herrin said, "but I'm not going to run around with a mad face. You've got to overcome it.

"I didn't know [the suspension] would be this long. I think they had to use somebody as an example."

A third Trojan, running back Shawn Walters, has been suspended since Sept. 28 for allegedly accepting $15,900 from Caron. He and Nunnery were roommates.

Darrell Thompson, a Los Angeles lawyer helping Walters, said he is hopeful USC will petition the NCAA early next week to restore Walters' eligibility.

He denied recent reports that Walters was considering signing with the Canadian Football League.

*

Times staff writer Earl Gustkey contributed to this story from South Bend, Ind.

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