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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Trojan Holds Smoking E-Mail in Fostergate

November 11, 2001|T.J. Simers

In what might become one of the more twisted chapters in the Trojan-Bruin rivalry, The Times has learned UCLA officials were informed by an NCAA investigator that the e-mailer who blew the whistle on DeShaun Foster for driving a fancy leased SUV has deep loyalties to USC.

I would have never thought of that.

There is even some suggestion in UCLA circles that the Foster investigation is being prolonged by someone who wants to keep Foster from playing against the Trojans in this week's annual showdown.

I can see USC insisting that Foster donate $2,000 to the Cardinal and Gold Club to gain admittance to the Coliseum Saturday, but I can't imagine any Trojan being so devious as to undermine a young man's college eligibility.

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IT'S UNCLEAR if the Trojan defense could stop Foster, but the way things are going, Madame E-Mailer may have already accomplished that.

Here's the story the way UCLA officials are hearing it--or would like it told: Hollywood director Eric Laneuville leased a Ford Expedition, apparently mentioning during his discussions with the salesman that Foster, a friend of his, would be borrowing the car because Foster was having car problems.

The salesman then mentioned this to a female associate, who apparently has unspecified loyalties to USC and therefore took umbrage at a Bruin getting the chance to tool around town in a white Ford Expedition. If we ever get the chance to talk with her, we'll ask her what she thinks about a former Trojan tooling around town in a white Ford Bronco.

It should be pointed out, of course, that Madame E-mailer has done nothing wrong--other than tattle on Foster and cheer for USC, and it is Foster who broke the NCAA's rules.

However, it also has been learned that UCLA and the NCAA have found no link between the Hollywood director who leased the vehicle Foster was driving and any sports agent.

But instead of Foster being cleared to play against USC, the investigation continues because UCLA officials said the NCAA is still receiving "tips" from "sources" that must be checked out.

UCLA, which has experience in wasting time checking out bogus tips received via e-mail in a recent case involving basketball Coach Steve Lavin, wonders now if someone is deliberately trying to further the investigation to keep Foster out of the game with USC. The school suspects there is some "Deep Throat" feeding information to the NCAA, and at the same time, to the local media.

I know this, if either USC President Steven Sample or Athletic Director Mike Garrett are really "Deep Throat," they're not calling me.

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IF MADAME E-MAILER has more information connecting Foster with an agent or the representative for an agent and thereby ending his college career, she might earn a place on USC's Wall of Fame or a place in Garrett's luxury box Saturday.

However, I hope she's not counting on the athletic department to waive the $2,000 donation required to join the Cardinal and Gold Club, although I would urge Madame E-Mail to contact me at t.j.simers@latimes.com, and I'll see what I can do.

As always, anyone who knows of any wrongdoings by anyone at USC is urged to e-mail, and they will get priority.

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IF YOU see a Ford Expedition with the license plate 4ULG351, let me know if Foster's still driving it. If you see Foster, show him page D7 in the Saturday sports section and the ad for a 2002 Land Rover that can be leased for $399 a month. It beats the $600 he's going to have to make good on the Expedition.

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THE FIRST person to score for USC against Cal was Chris Howard. The name of the NCAA investigator who was in L.A. much of the week looking into the Foster fiasco is Chris Howard. I guess you could say Chris Howard could very well determine who wins this year's game between the Trojans and Bruins.

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AFTER TWO losses and a week of turmoil, UCLA Coach Bob Toledo was quoted in the newspaper Saturday saying, "My whole life has been turned upside down." Apparently he was serving notice that one of the most aggressive coaches in college football was going to become ultra-conservative--his decisions to play it safe in the fourth quarter costing the Bruins a win.

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THE TROJANS are probably in the position now of going all the way to San Jose on Dec. 31 to play in the Silicon Valley Classic--if they can beat UCLA.

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THE DODGERS paid Jeff Shaw $1.5 million to leave. Money well-spent.

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DODGER GM Dan Evans calls Omar Daal, acquired in a trade, one of the best left-handers in the game. Daal is 17-26 over the past two seasons, which tells me Evans is an executive prone to gush--therefore limiting his credibility.

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KING Coach Andy Murray asked his players to complete this sentence: "When I play my best hockey I ... " and put it in writing. Maybe the reason the Kings are doing so poorly is because there is only one way to end that sentence--"When I play my best hockey I ... am still not sure anyone cares."

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BUFFALO RUNNING back Travis Henry pleaded guilty to having a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl, and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service--counseling youth at the St. Augustine Community Service Corp. Apparently the local halfway house for unwed mothers didn't need help.

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TODAY'S LAST word comes in an e-mail from D. Lopez:

"I noticed you have completely ignored Foster's illegal use of a SUV. Interesting. Now it's quite clear UCLA football players not only receive special benefits from agents, but from hometown columnists as well."

I hope to give Foster a ride to Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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