O.J. Mayo’s Debacle Raises Questions….Again

O.J. Mayo’s Debacle Raises Questions….Again

O.J. Mayo’s Debacle Raises Questions….Again

            Whether they are playing in high school, college or in the pros, fans tend to hold their athletes up on a pedestal. Many of us fans have the notion that our athletes can do no wrong. They are heroes and friends; they represent the people and the communities they live in.  Yet, almost every year we turn on the television and there, plastered across the screen is breaking news about a student athlete who has violated NCAA codes by taking gifts or money.

By Eric Geier

            This time it was O.J. Mayo, the phenomenal freshman out of USC. One of Mayo’s closest friends and “business partners,” Louis Johnson, has recently come forward to say that Mayo has accepted over $30,000 dollars from Rodney Guillory, an independent club promoter with ties to BDA, a sporting agency that represents the likes of Steve Nash, among others. Johnson was recently exiled from Mayo’s inner-circle by Guillory, giving him reason to come forward and spill the beans on the whole situation. However, Mayo has already declared for the NBA draft so he is likely to go unpunished, but USC is sure to face some penalties from the NCAA.  Just two year ago another USC player was under investigation, Reggie Bush, for violating NCAA rules by living in a house that didn’t belong to his family.  The NCAA should be handing out some stiff penalties to USC given the fact that these events happened so close together with some of the biggest names in all of college sports. The Reggie Bush case is not fully closed, so these two high profile cases are sure to yield some unwanted results for USC. These two episodes show that either USC is lax in their investigations of student athletes or they choose to turn a blind eye to what may have happened in the past. Mayo declared that he had already been under investigation by USC and the NCAA and that they found nothing.

The sophistication in which Louis Johnson and Rodney Guillory went about providing for O.J. Mayo is startling. They were able to wire money to Mayo’s friends so it wouldn’t leave a trail to Mayo himself. Guillory also used a credit card registered to a non-profit organization called The National Organization of Sickle Cell Prevention and Awareness Foundation, which may or may not be a bogus organization because it has never been registered as a non-profit and is not known to anyone around the community. The Universities and the NCAA need to keep a closer eye on the spending habits of players in the league. When a player gets a new flat screen television or constantly has new clothes, some questions should be asked.  It shouldn’t take a disgruntled close friend of an athlete to uncover the whole situation. It shouldn’t be that hard either, most of the players that are going to get offered money or gifts are going to be top players, I’ve never heard of a third string point guard receiving money or material goods. It always seems to happen to the great players, the players guaranteed to go pro, the Reggie Bush’s and O.J. Mayo’s of the world.

            O.J. Mayo is not the first and definitely will not be the last player to go under investigation for taking gifts or money.  Ohio State’s own Maurice Clarett (remember him?) took advantage of academic tutors to pass classes and was accused of accepting money and gifts from local boosters during his short tenure as a Buckeye. Former Ohio State basketball coach Jim O’Brien also admitted to giving $6,000 dollars to Aleksandar Radojevic from Serbia when he signed his letter of intent. Ohio State is still on probation for the O’Brien mistake. It is simply hard to understand why great players allow themselves to get sucked in and used by people trying to make money and advance their own careers. It seems the world has become so materialistic that these players cannot wait a couple of years to make millions of dollars. They just need to have the hottest clothes, the most cash at the clubs and the coolest cars. They don’t want it two years down the road, they want it now and they are willing to risk their career, their name and the University to get what they want.  Players that accept these gifts and the people that give them believe they live outside the rules, that they run no risk and they cannot get caught. Educating young players on the risks and dangers of accepting benefits doesn’t seem to be a priority in the cutthroat world of recruiting and signing players. It is up to high school and college level coaches to teach their young hotshots about the dangers of accepting these gifts and what it can do to their careers and the schools they represent.


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