The events promoter at the center of the O.J. Mayo scandal — and the resulting sanctions against USC — has filed a $25-million lawsuit against the NCAA, which he alleges defamed him in an investigative report issued last spring.
Rodney Guillory claims the association's Public Infractions Report mischaracterized his relationship with Mayo, which dated to when the former Trojans basketball star was in seventh grade.
"The relationship that Rodney and O.J. had, it was akin to the relationship a student would have with an uncle or a close family friend," Edward Y. Lee, Guillory's attorney, said Friday.
The NCAA report did not name Guillory but alleged that an "event promoter" served as a go-between for a sports agent in funneling cash and gifts to Mayo during the 2007-08 season.
By the time the report was issued in June this year, USC had already imposed sanctions on its basketball program, agreeing to a one-year postseason ban as well as scholarship and recruiting restrictions. The school returned $206,200 in NCAA tournament appearance money from Mayo's only college season.
The NCAA also penalized the football program, finding that former tailback Reggie Bush had received cash and gifts from a pair of would-be sports marketers in San Diego.
Mayo plays for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. He could not be reached for comment but has denied receiving extra benefits.
The NCAA issued a brief statement Friday: "We have not seen the lawsuit, but we are confident that the NCAA did not defame Mr. Guillory in any way."
The suit, which claims defamation, false light invasion of privacy and negligent misrepresentation, claims that Guillory gave Mayo guidance as well as monetary assistance years before the player arrived at USC.
"Rodney was providing a lot of things that [Mayo's] own parents weren't providing," the attorney said.
The NCAA investigated the relationship before Mayo played for USC and deemed the athlete eligible with no restrictions.
But shortly after Mayo declared for the 2008 NBA draft, former confidant Louis Johnson alleged that he had been receiving extra benefits while in school.
Guillory's lawsuit acknowledges that he gave Mayo transportation and home-cooked meals, Lee said, but Guillory continues to deny acting as a go-between, or "runner," for agents.
"The very relationship [the NCAA] approved of years prior is all of a sudden a relationship based on Rodney being a runner," Lee said. "I think we could disprove that."
Current USC Coach Kevin O'Neill declined to comment.
Times staff writer Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.