SportsProf

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Did O.J. Mayo Actually Select USC, or. . .

did USC actively have recruiting him in their game plan and did USC coach Tim Floyd give a street agent $1,000 as a means to get that person to steer Mayo to USC? Yahoo.com suggests that there's a big Federal investigation going on and that one of those street agents told Federal investigators that this happened.

Let's not jump to any conclusions here, and before you can say "Duke lacrosse" ten times you can conjure up all sorts of questions and allegations against many major colleage basketball programs (such as how did a New York kid end up playing ball for Floyd while he was coaching in Ames, Iowa of all places)? That's not fair to Floyd, who deserves the floor, a chance to answer, and, yes, if necessary, a lawyer.

There's a bigger problem here, which is recruits' senses of self-importance and entitlement and the proliferation of street agents who ingratiate themselves with star players and put themselves out for sale to some agents who need the cloak of cleanness but who also need guys on the street to stay close to and bring the key player into their stable of athletes. I don't know how you stop this business, but it's messy. A friend's son almost landed a job several years ago for a self-styled up-and-coming sports agent in the Philadelphia area. His job? To start and run basketball camps for underprivileged middle- and high-schoolers in the inner city. The reason? You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out that by being ubiquitous, the one kid with a chance to play beyond Division I might come into this agent's orbit.

So who are these street agents? Why do the players take things from them? What role do college coaches play in this -- do they encourage/enable the street agents? The purpose of this post is not to express surprise or shock -- there is so much money to go around in major college basketball and the NBA that it's not surprising that hangers out try to scratch additional pennies from the money tree, precisely because that's where the money is. The disappointment is that these guys don't get hit with a broom every time they try to enter the building.

Now it's USC's and Tim Floyd's turn. Is this street agent telling the truth, or is he making up a story to save himself?

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