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USC to Petition NCAA for Walters' Return : College football: Trojans hope to regain suspended running back for at least one game.

November 03, 1995|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC will ask the NCAA today to reinstate running back Shawn Walters, who has been suspended since Sept. 28 for allegedly receiving benefits from a sports agent.

Robert Lane, USC's general counsel, said Thursday that Walters' chances of playing against Stanford on Saturday in the Coliseum are slim.

After a detailed evaluation that took almost a month, USC officials determined that Walters accepted about $3,900 in pocket money and other items from representatives of Robert Troy Caron, an Oxnard agent. It is a violation of NCAA rules for college athletes to accept money or other favors from agents.

Lane said that the benefits came from Walters' roommates, Melvin Nunnery and Corey Tucker, former Ventura County athletes who recruited for Caron. Lane said that Walters was unaware his roommates worked for the agent.

Walters, 22, is hoping to return for at least one game this season.

"He will be vindicated," said Darrell Thompson, Walters' attorney.

Walters, the Trojans' rushing leader in 1993 and '94, was the focus of a joint NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference investigation into USC players' links to Caron.

A ledger obtained by The Times indicated Walters accepted $15,900 in benefits from Caron since last year. Lane said the school found that Walters received about a quarter of that total.

Walters is the last of three USC players to begin the process of restoration of eligibility through the NCAA eligibility staff. Errick Herrin and Israel Ifeanyi also were suspended for links to Caron. They are eligible to play Saturday against Stanford.

Herrin, a starting linebacker, was suspended for five games for receiving $860 from Caron's recruiters. Ifeanyi was suspended for two games for getting about $190. He also was suspended for two games for receiving $3,650 from fellow Nigerians living in Los Angeles.

USC officials fear that Walters, a junior scheduled to graduate by next fall, might receive a more severe penalty than the others because of the amount of money involved.

"I don't think they would reject our account, but they could impose a substantial penalty so he can't compete for the balance of the year," Lane said.

Walters met Caron through Nunnery, a former USC walk-on who failed to make the team. Nunnery introduced them at an athletic event in Ventura County during the summer of 1994, Lane said.

Walters also visited Caron's personal injury law office in Oxnard, but Lane said there was nothing illegal about the meetings.

"It was Bobby's [Caron] practice to talk to athletes about how they could better perform on the field," Lane said. "The fact a person may be an agent and the fact you may speak to him about developing your speed has no direct correlation with providing a benefit."

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