NCAA is Right to Investigate OJ Mayo

A lot of people are laughing off the NCAA investigation of USC freshman O.J. Mayo, one of our favorite athletes to be cleared of pot charges, for accepting free tickets to a Nuggets game from his friend Carmelo Anthony. At its most basic level, a friend offered Mayo a small gift and he accepted. If a friend called you up today and offered you a ticket to a Laker game because he had an extra seat, you’d take it, right? Well, as the argument goes, so would O.J. Mayo. Why should that be a problem? I’ll tell you.

The NCAA represents collegiate sports — amateur athletics. The line between college basketball and pro basketball had disappeared up until recently when the NBA made high schoolers attend one year of college to be eligible for the draft. The point is that the NCAA is looking out for its amateur, collegiate athletes, trying to keep them in school. By showing up at NBA games sitting in baller seats, Mayo is exposed to an enticing lifestyle and his head is undoubtedly infiltrated with thoughts about turning pro. Sure, he was a 99% one-and-done guy entering USC, but that small percent of him staying more than one year existed. Until now, when OJ Mayo is sitting in sweet Laker seats, thinking about all the celebrities he could play in front of next year, judging his game against NBA players firsthand.

Many sports fans, USC fans included, probably view this as a petty infraction that doesn’t warrant any sort of investigation. You are right on the most elementary basis. But when you really think about it, if you’re a fan of college sports, this sort of rule is designed for you. And USC fans, if you’re thinking properly, you should want Mayo as far away from the glitz and glamour of the NBA as possible.

UPDATE: The incident has been resolved and the NCAA asked Mayo to make a $460 contribution (the total value of the tickets) to a charity for the violation. Also, JS does a brilliant job taking me to task in the comments — a must read.

Around The Web

  • http://svpstyle.com ScottVanPeltStyle.com

    Boom Dizzle wouldn’t have given him anything but a pop upside his hizzead.

  • SpinMax

    So when exactly are they going to investigate Reggie Bush who got a house?

  • JS

    Cone on, Larry, give me a break. Sure, report about Mayo (and even more so his coach’s) error in judgement that has since been resolved to the NCAA’s satifaction (even it not yours), but save the sanctimonious diatribe about the NCAA and amateur athletics, and glitz and glamour.

    Yeah, the NCAA is interested in protecting the amateurism of it’s athletes. So it allows football players to play pro baseball and Tom Zibekowski to box (where he managed so score ringside seats for his fellow ND teammates), allows bowl sponsors to practically emtpy Best Buy with gifts to the players, allows championship and bowl rings that later end up for sale on ebay. Do you have any idea what restaurants and events recruits are taken on their official visits? Even in today’s LA Times there is mention of Malik Hairston being flown in Phil Knight’s private jet for his recruiting visit to Oregon All NCAA APPROVED.

    And OJ shouldn’t be exposed to the enticing lifestyle offered by the NBA. How about that NCAA approved photo shoot for SLAM magazine, including a cover photo behind the wheel of a Bentley. Reminder, Larry, NCAA APPROVED. And the LA Times story of OJ walking along West Melrose Avenue window shopping and making the remark about having to have to get some money. Maybe the NCAA can make it a violation to window shop on Melrose so college athletes don’t get the idea of an enticing pro sports lifestyle. Hope no SC alums boought him a chile dog at Pinks, that’s a violation of the extra benefits rule.

    Judging his game vs NBA players? Hasn’t he been playing in pick up games since junior high? Wasn’t it OJ who trash talked Michael Jordan during a pickup game at Michael’s basketball camp? And the NBA scouts in the front row under the basket at every game at Galen (obviously NCAA approved, but is it an infraction if Mayo acknowledges he notices them?)

    Glitz, glamour and celebrities? Ever see the sideline at a USC football game? And after the last year’s basketball win over Stanford, longtime friend of the Hackett family, Denzel Washington, paid a visit to the Trojan locker room. ABC even interviewed a sideline celebrity during the Washington State football game, wait, that was OJ Mayo being interviewed (again, obviously NCAA approved).

    Will all this cause Mayo to be a one and done? Well, the most Hollywood glitzed NCAA athlete ever had to be Matt Leinert during the 2004 Heisman winning season, and, well, he came back for his senior year.

    By the way, once charges are dropped for a misdemeanor, does’t the ‘alledged’ get dropped, also?