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USC football: Former assistant committed apparent violation at Tennessee, report says

September 27, 2011 | 12:15 am


USC Coach Lane Kiffin escaped penalties last summer after the NCAA found that secondary recruiting violations were committed by his staff during his 14-month tenure at Tennessee.

But Kiffin's controversial time in Knoxville continues to trail him at USC.

On Monday night, Yahoo! Sports reported that former USC assistant Willie Mack Garza allegedly wired $1,500 to a former talent scout to reimburse him for airfare for a prospect’s unofficial recruiting trip to Tennessee when Garza was an assistant on Kiffin’s staff.

Garza resigned his position at USC in September, a few days before the Trojans' season opener against Minnesota. In a statement released through the school, he said he was leaving because of “some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address.”

The Yahoo! Sports report said that Garza reimbursed Will Lyles for airfare that was part of a trip taken by Lache Seastrunk, a running back from Texas, and the player’s mother. The report said that Seastrunk traveled to Tennessee’s Knoxville campus for the unofficial visit in 2009. He eventually signed with Oregon but has since transferred to Baylor.

The NCAA is investigating Lyles’ ties to Oregon and Louisiana State.

NCAA rules allow schools to pay airfare for official visits during a prospect's senior year in high school. However, the report said Seastrunk's trip was taken before his senior year began, making it an apparent violation.

The report said that Lyles spoke with the NCAA on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles. Garza resigned two days later.

USC officials have declined to comment about Garza's departure. On Monday night, a USC athletic department spokesman declined to comment about the Yahoo! Sports report.

USC did not practice on Monday. The Trojans resume workouts Tuesday.


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--Gary Klein

Photo: Willie Mack Garza watches USC players warm up before a game against California last season at the Coliseum. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times