New York Jets running back Joe McKnight has refused to comment on allegations… (Bill Kostroun / Associated…)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Former USC running back Joe McKnight declined to comment Friday about recent allegations that he took improper benefits while he was a player for the Trojans.
Approached after a New York Jets practice, McKnight walked out of the locker room at the team's facility, retreating to an area off-limits to media.
The Times has reported that Scott Schenter, a key figure in the ongoing corruption scandal at the Los Angeles County assessor's office, said he gave cash and perks worth thousands of dollars to McKnight and former basketball player Davon Jefferson while they were still in school.
The Times obtained Schenter's work emails from the assessor's office under the California Public Records Act. A May 2008 email from Delta Air Lines to Schenter includes a receipt for his purchase of a $625 flight from Los Angeles to New Orleans. The listed passenger: "Joe McKnight." Schenter also told The Times that he gave McKnight a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which was referred to in a 2009 email from an automobile insurance agent.
The NCAA said on Tuesday it would investigate the allegations. Chief Deputy Assessor Santos H. Kreimann said Friday that the NCAA had not yet contacted his office.
In 2009, USC administrators investigated McKnight and Schenter's relationship after McKnight was seen driving a $27,000 Land Rover registered to Schenter. McKnight told The Times in December 2009 that he had not personally driven the SUV and did not know Schenter. McKnight said then that his girlfriend was Schenter's secretary, suggesting she had borrowed her boss' vehicle.
USC said it turned over its findings to the NCAA and that no violation was processed.
McKnight skipped his final year of college eligibility and entered the 2010 NFL draft.
The Times also approached McKnight after a Jets practice in August, before specific information regarding the Monte Carlo and plane ticket were discovered in Schenter's emails. McKnight insisted that he didn't know Schenter.
But he expressed remorse about the way he left USC.
"I feel like I let a lot of people down out there in California," McKnight said. "Wish I could go back and do things different. But I can't. I apologize to all the people in California."
USC Coach Lane Kiffin has said that the McKnight situation would not distract the Trojans as they prepared for Saturday's game against Syracuse at East Rutherford, N.J.
Times staff writers Jack Dolan and Sam Farmer contributed to this report.