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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Floyd's negative comments draw no response from USC, NCAA

After the former basketball coach says he was warned and not supported, university and NCAA officials cite ongoing inquiry in refusing to respond.

December 03, 2009|By Chris Foster

A day after former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd had his say -- when he denied allegations of breaking NCAA rules and complained that Trojans Athletic Director Mike Garrett abandoned him -- USC and the NCAA declined to have theirs.

A request to interview Garrett on Wednesday brought this response from USC spokesman Tim Tessalone: "Because there is an ongoing NCAA investigation, we cannot comment."

In an interview with Times reporter Diane Pucin late Tuesday night, Floyd said that during his last six weeks as coach of the Trojans, Garrett communicated with him only through letters delivered by courier to his home or office. The coach's resignation, announced June 9, came amid allegations that he had paid a former associate of O.J. Mayo, who starred for the Trojans during his one year at USC.

Floyd is now an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets, and he spoke after a loss to the Lakers at Staples Center.

"I was so disappointed," Floyd said in the interview. "In 33 years in this business I have never been accused of giving anybody a dollar. It was absolutely not true and to not have any more support was the most disappointing thing I have ever been through. I didn't have the stomach to continue."

Floyd left a month after Louis Johnson, a former acquaintance of Mayo, told reporters that Rodney Guillory had received an envelope filled with money from the USC coach. Johnson also said Mayo received gifts and money funneled through Guillory from an agent while he was playing for the Trojans.

Months before those allegations surfaced, Floyd said, he became aware his job might be in jeopardy. Three weeks before last season was over, the coach was told that Garrett had been critical of the basketball program at an earlier meeting of USC trustees.

Garrett "told them three programs were in trouble, and if progress wasn't made immediately, the coaches would be gone," Floyd said. "The three programs were women's basketball, men's basketball and men's tennis."

Floyd's team lost six of seven games near the end of the season, but the Trojans righted themselves and finished strong by winning the Pacific 10 Conference tournament and playing well in the NCAA tournament. As for the women's basketball team, Coach Mark Trakh resigned after a 17-15 season.

USC's men's tennis team won the national championship and Peter Smith remains the coach.

Floyd said he had been warned USC might make him a scapegoat nearly a year before his resignation, during a telephone conversation with LuAnn Humphrey, an NCAA enforcement officer.

"She told me I needed to get an attorney," Floyd recalled. When he told her he had done nothing wrong, Floyd said Humphrey compared USC's situation with what had happened at Ohio State, when an examination that started with allegations into the football program ended up in sanctions against the basketball team.

Attempts to reach Humphrey on Wednesday were not successful. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail, "It is NCAA policy to not comment on a current, pending or potential investigation." Osburn did not respond when asked if it would be unusual or against policy for an NCAA official to have such a conversation with the coach of a program under investigation.

Floyd acknowledged Guillory was allowed to be around the USC basketball program even though he had been part of a past NCAA violation involving USC.

"I don't live my life with those regrets," Floyd said. "Everything was run through USC and, by the way, the NCAA had cleared O.J. to play. O.J. came to us, no shenanigans, no promises of money, of anything. O.J. the young man lived his college life with no car, no apartment. I just wish people would do research."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

Times staff writer Diane Pucin contributed to this report.

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