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Category: Mike Garrett

USC football: Report says Dillon Baxter hoaxed coaches into thinking he was improperly recruited

USC freshman running back Dillon Baxtersuspended for the season opener for violating team rules, has repeatedly declined to comment about a June incident that required former athletic director Mike Garrett to send letters of apology to five schools.

Shortly after the NCAA handed down sanctions against USC, a school compliance official sent a letter to the Pacific 10 Conference alleging that Florida, Alabama, Washington, Oregon and Fresno State had improperly contacted Baxter. The schools denied the allegations, and Garrett later sent letters of apology to their athletic directors.

ESPN.com's Shaun Assael, through a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained a letter signed by Baxter that was dated June 24, 2010, and was included with Garrett's letter of apology. Baxter said in his letter that he had not been contacted by the schools.

In the short letter, Baxter explains that he talked to friends at Florida, Michigan, Alabama and Fresno State on the day the sanctions were announced.

"We discussed what I wanted to do and how I felt about the sanctions," Baxter wrote. "From that point, the situation got blown out of proportion."

Baxter wrote that he went to receivers coach John Morton's office and said that other schools had contacted him.

"The fact are not such. I was not contacted by other schools but it was me talking to my friends about what I was going to do," Baxter wrote.

He added: "I am truly sorry for all of the chaos I have caused and it was not my intention to implicate other schools and their coaching staffs. I realize my actions do not represent how I was raised and the type of person I am. I would like everyone to know that I will do a better job thinking before I act."

-- Gary Klein

USC football: Pat Haden sends letter to fans, flowers to female coaches and staff

Pat Haden, USC's new athletic director, started his first official day on the job by posting a letter to "The Trojan Family" on the school's website.

"During the period of our NCAA probation we won't wake up each morning with a 'woe is me' attitude as a result of the sanctions," wrote Haden, who succeeded Mike Garrett. "I have failed if I cannot create a positive, upbeat environment that cultivates success in spite of the sanctions." 

Haden also sent flowers to USC's female coaches and administrative assistants.

Haden's first day coincided with USC football players reporting for the start of training camp. The Trojans and Coach Lane Kiffin begin the season Sept. 2 at Hawaii.

--Gary Klein

Former USC coach Tim Floyd takes 'high road' in reacting to Garrett's ouster

Former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd said he departed the Galen Center before the 2009-10 season due to a "lack of support by my administration." But when Floyd, now the head men's basketball coach at Texas El Paso, learned Tuesday that Pat Haden was replacing Mike Garrett as USC's athletic director, he said he preferred to "take the high road" instead of bashing a man whose leadership Floyd clearly felt was lacking in key situations.

Floyd has told news organizations in the past, including The Times, that he felt abandoned by Garrett when a Yahoo Sports report alleged he had accepted $1,000 from a Los Angeles events promoter who was a close associate of former Trojans' star guard O.J. Mayo. Floyd insisted he never took the money, and said he felt vindicated when the NCAA this year reviewed the allegation and declined to discipline him.

Last year, Floyd told reporters, "Why I left was not in any way an admission of guilt. ... The day the story broke, my athletic director called me and asked me where I was. I happened to be in New Orleans after being there for seven months. He asked me if I'd read the story. I said, 'Yes. And I did not do what I'm accused of doing.' Two, 'Where are you?' 'I'm in New Orleans.' The third thing he said was, 'You need to get your [self] back to Los Angeles so I can decide what I'm going to do with you.'

"That did not register well with me, did not sit well with me. I always said I would only stay at a place as long as I was wanted there. It was a situation where the athletic director was more worried about himself than our program. Everything we had done to establish that program as one of the top national-level programs in the country was being destroyed from within. Players being released, the treatment of our coaches, the treatment of me as the head coach. ... And at this point in my career, I didn't feel like I needed to stay there and deal with that. I felt I'd done enough over 33 years of being in this business to never have my integrity challenged and did not appreciate it."

On Tuesday, Floyd told The Times, "I loved my experience at USC -- the facilities and the players -- and I wish Pat Haden nothing but the best.

"I know from my latest experience at UTEP how important it is to be supported by the athletic department. I value that and hope Pat Haden does that with his coaches and players at USC, it's a great place with a storied history. SC has some of the greatest athletes in this country, and they'll continue to get them regardless of who's sitting in that [athletic director's] seat."

Floyd said his bitter parting with Garrett "is past history. That's gone. It's over. I would hope the university the best. I wish him [Garrett] the best."

-- Lance Pugmire

USC football: Mike Garrett sends letters of apology to schools regarding alleged contact with Dillon Baxter

Garrett_400 USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett sent a letter of apology to the University of Florida and several other schools regarding allegations that they made impermissible contact with Trojans running back Dillon Baxter after the NCAA announced sanctions against USC.

ESPN reported last month that a USC compliance official had sent a letter to Pacific 10 Conference officials alleging that Florida, Washington, Oregon, Fresno State and Alabama had contacted Baxter, who had enrolled at USC in January and participated in spring practice. ESPN also first reported about Garrett’s letter to Florida.

Garrett’s July 1 letter to Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, read in part, “I have spoken with Mr. Baxter and he has now confirmed that he did not receive a call from your institution. Therefore, USC has no intention of pursuing this matter further.

“I apologize for any inconvenience or embarrassment this matter has caused to you and your institution.”

Several media outlets have reported that Alabama and Washington also have received letters from Garrett.

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Mike Garrett. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.

USC football: LenDale White doesn't hold back talking about Pete Carroll

During his career at USC, LenDale White was never shy about speaking his mind or answering questions.

The running back, recently released by the Seattle Seahawks, can still bring it in interviews.

White gave a lengthy interview to a Nashville radio station on Wednesday and did not hold back in talking about Pete Carroll and Mike Garrett.

White, who was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy, is hoping to catch on with another NFL team.

The interview can be found here.

-- Gary Klein

Mike Garrett comes out firing at Trojans' event

Mike Garrett acted as if the USC athletic program was basking in the warm afterglow of another Bowl Series Championship title, not hours removed from the announcement of severe NCAA penalties for infractions committed by the football and men's basketball programs.

The Trojans athletic director was making no apologies for his department Thursday night at the San Francisco Airport Marriott, doing his best to whip a group of Trojans supporters into a frenzy during a Northern California Trojans Club function.

"As I read the decision by the NCAA," Garrett said of sanctions that included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 football scholarships over three years, " ... I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans."

Garrett received warm applause when he took the podium inside the hotel ballroom, with some in the crowd standing and extending a two-finger victory salute. Garrett told the gathering that he "felt invigorated by all this stuff" because he had wondered how big the SC brand was and "with the penalty we got today I know we're bigger than life."

Wearing a dark suit and cardinal-and-gold striped tie, Garrett mingled briefly among boosters before dinner but declined to comment when approached by a reporter. Asked if he was worried about his job, Garrett patted the reporter on the chest and said, "I'm just worried about your job. You do a good job."

Later, he told the boosters, "Today I got a purpose for really wanting to dominate for another 10 years."

-- Ben Bolch in San Francisco

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