USC Apologizes to Schools For Saying Dillon Baxter Was Illegally Contacted

You may recall that in June, the NCAA ruled that schools could contact USC's juniors and seniors following the punishments handed down by the NCAA Infractions Committee. You may also recall that incoming freshman Trojan Dillon Baxter made noise about illegal contact by, among other schools, Alabama and Florida. It was juicy, salacious and a shot back at the world from a USC program too proud to be a carcass for the circling vultures.

Except for the fact that the contact apparently didn't happen. Alabama and Florida were first to mention letters of apology.

⇥UA athletics director Mal Moore received a letter Tuesday from Southern Cal athletics director Mike Garrett apologizing for a recent report that Alabama was one of five schools to illegally contact Trojans freshman running back Dillon Baxter.⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥

⇥"I have spoken with Mr. Baxter and he has now confirmed that he did not receive a call from your institution," Garrett wrote to Moore. "Therefore, USC has no intention of pursuing this matter further.⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥

⇥Florida received apology letter from USC AD Mike Garrett today saying reports of UF illegally contacting recruit Dillon Baxter were untrue.

(Go figure: a team coached by Lane Kiffin was spewing misinformation about Florida and Alabama! Wasn't this supposed to end when Kiffin bolted from the SEC?)

It makes some twisted sense for USC to slander schools, of course. The idea that Florida or Alabama would illegally contact a recruit is a bit more damaging than the retraction of a false report with an apology two months later. 

It's damaging to the other three schools—Fresno State, Oregon, and Washington—originally implicated, too, and USC made the full tour of apologies. Washington director of communications Jeff Bechthold confirmed that his school received a letter of apology from USC. Fresno State director of athletic communications Steve Schaack confirmed that his school received a letter; "The letter received from USC today has confirmed that the alleged telephone call did not occur," Fresno State director of athletics Thomas Boeh said in a statement. ESPN's Bruce Feldman also tweeted that Oregon will be receiving a similar letter.

But ignore the squawking over a single player and never mind the hypocrisy of this USC staff crying foul. The salient point is this: if making false claims to impugn other schools is how USC's dealing with potentially diminished relevance, fans might have more to worry about than previously thought.

If the Trojans are continuing to skirt the edges of legitimacy for the purposes of meaningless off-season PR skirmishes, what's to suggest Kiffin and Co. will try to be totally above the board with the important things? If they play by their own rules and profit from it, what are the chances that slandered schools won't go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver the details of USC malfeasance to the NCAA?

And if they do get caught, what's to stop the NCAA from swinging a heavier sledgehammer next time?

(If you would like to read the letter itself, GatorCountry has a scan of the letter to Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.)

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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