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USC tailback Marc Tyler is suspended for season opener, and perhaps longer

Tyler, the team's leading rusher last season, is punished for what the school deems inappropriate comments, some of them sexually suggestive, that were caught on video and aired on a website.

July 18, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC tailback Marc Tyler has been suspended for the Trojans' season opener against Minnesota.
USC tailback Marc Tyler has been suspended for the Trojans' season… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC's football team already faces a major issue at tailback, two weeks before training camp opens.

Coach Lane Kiffin announced Monday that Marc Tyler has been suspended for the Sept. 3 season opener against Minnesota, "and potentially further," after the latest in a string of off-the-field incidents involving the senior tailback.

Tyler, USC's leading rusher last season, was shown on TMZ.com making comments deemed inappropriate by the university.

Responding to questions on camera outside a nightclub last week, Tyler, 22, made a suggestive comment about USC running backs and reality-television personality Kim Kardashian, suggested a sexually explicit acronym for USC, and said Trojans football players were paid more than pros.

Former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith said in the video that Tyler was joking about being paid. Tyler, who has been suspended from all team activities, said in a statement Monday that he was joking when he made his comments.

"That is not the way that we expect our players to represent USC and our team," Kiffin said in a statement, adding, "Although Marc may find this punishment severe, it is imperative we continue to have a high standard for player behavior. Marc needs to work hard to show us that he can meet the standards of being a USC football player."

The video follows on the heels of two April incidents, one in which Tyler allegedly spat on a female USC student while intoxicated, the other in which he is alleged to have inappropriately touched another female USC student at a bar near campus. Tyler appeared before the school's Office of Student Judicial Affairs and said in June that he was awaiting word about possible discipline. He also said that he had enrolled in a counseling program to deal with alcohol-related issues.

In his statement, Tyler apologized to teammates and coaches and said he was disappointed that he had "let down all the people who have supported me as I have been working through some personal issues. . . . I realize how my behavior and my statements, even though I was joking, can reflect poorly on so many people. . . . I am committed to doing everything the right way so that I can be reinstated to the team."

Tyler's father, Wendell, a former UCLA and NFL running back, said that he and his wife supported USC's decision and that they provide their son with financial assistance. He also said Marc would not transfer for his final season.

"We want to apologize to anyone out there that my son has offended because of his actions," Wendell Tyler said in a phone interview.

Athletic Director Pat Haden said the school had "very high expectations" for all athletes.

"While the vast majority of our student-athletes act appropriately, Marc did not and stepped way out of line," Haden said in a statement. "He did not represent himself, his university or his team the way we expect. Marc has a lot to do to prove he belongs on our team. We hope Marc learns from this and comes back a changed and better person."

Tyler's absence opens the door for sophomore tailback Dillon Baxter, redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan and perhaps junior Curtis McNeal, who has not been academically cleared for the fall. Amir Carlisle and Javorious Allen are incoming freshman tailbacks.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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