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Coaching Situation Still in Limbo

USC REPORT

December 20, 2004|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

USC remains in a holding pattern regarding its men's basketball coach.

When Rick Majerus canceled Sunday dinner plans with a close friend, Majerus said it was to meet with USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett and senior associate athletic director Daryl Gross to discuss his apparently imminent resignation from the job he accepted Wednesday.

But the supposed Sunday night skull session was news to the USC officials.

Gross, the point man in the initial Majerus negotiations, said through school spokesman Tim Tessalone that he wanted to speak with Majerus on the phone, and Garrett reiterated his desire to keep today's appointment, a previously scheduled meeting that was supposed to revolve around basketball-related issues -- not resignations before the ink on the contract was dry.

Although Majerus had said at Wednesday's news conference that he had signed the contract the night before and had bought out his contract with ESPN as an analyst, there is speculation at USC that the five-year, $5-million deal was not consummated, leaving Majerus, and the school, with an out.

Neither Garrett nor Gross -- who will leave for Syracuse next month to become that school's athletic director -- nor Majerus have returned numerous phone messages.

ESPN has reported that Majerus will return to the cable network as an analyst. Others who have shown interest in the USC job include former Iowa State and Chicago Bull coach Tim Floyd, former Seattle SuperSonic and Milwaukee Buck coach George Karl and Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight.

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Before word of Majerus' supposed change of heart began circulating Saturday afternoon, former Nevada Las Vegas coach Bill Bayno disputed a report that he had been hired by Majerus as an assistant and chief recruiter at USC.

"I've become good friends with Rick since leaving UNLV," Bayno, currently working overseas as a scout for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, said in an e-mail. "He's been a true friend but we haven't talked yet about the job. Obviously I'm flattered."

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The Trojans themselves were also in a holding pattern Sunday.

Their scheduled 10:50 a.m. departure from LAX to Honolulu, where USC will play in the Rainbow Classic, was delayed more than eight hours and the Trojans missed an opening banquet for the event.

Senior guard Errick Craven, who was suspended by interim Coach Jim Saia for the Trojans' victory over Western Michigan on Saturday because of what Saia described as poor work ethic and attitude, rejoined his teammates for the trip.

USC (4-3) will play Indiana State (5-3) Tuesday night.

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