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NCAAF: USC investigating McKnight’s SUV use

December 19, 2009

Joe McKnight, star tailback of USC‘s football team, has been driving a sport utility vehicle owned by a Santa Monica businessman, an arrangement the school is investigating and which may be in violation of NCAA rules. For several weeks, McKnight has been seen driving a well-kept 2006 Land Rover that, according to California Department of Motor Vehicles records, is registered to Scott Schenter.

If it’s found that McKnight is in violation of NCAA rules, it could affect his athletic eligibility. USC’s football team will next play against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 26 in San Francisco.

Tom Yeager, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee who is commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Assn., said universities are expected to be diligent regardless of whether they are repeat offenders or are dealing with infractions for the first time. He added, however, “The stakes go up just like someone making a return appearance in court. A judge is not going to be as sympathetic.”

Approached Wednesday after practice, McKnight acknowledged riding in the Land Rover but said he has never driven it. McKnight said his girlfriend, Johana Michelle Beltran, works as a secretary for Schenter, although the player said he did not know him.

McKnight and Beltran are the parents of a 10-month-old son, Jaiden. McKnight said the Land Rover was “my baby mama’s boss’. “

“I never talk to her about it,” he added. “I just see it whenever my girlfriend’s around with my kid. I ask no questions. I just do what I got to do.”

NCAA bylaw says that a student-athlete shall be ineligible if he, or relatives or friends, accepts transportation or other benefits from agents or marketing representatives. NCAA bylaw prohibits preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletic reputation or skill or payback potential as a professional athlete.

I play football and I have a child,” said McKnight, who grew up in a low-income area outside New Orleans. “I’m not the type to get into everybody’s business. I worry about my own.”

“I won’t break any rules because I know if I do I can’t get on the football field. I’m trying to keep my life secure and stay on the football field.”

“Compliance has this in a full review and so we’ll have to wait and see what happens with that,” Carroll said. “I really can’t tell you anything. I don’t know anything more than that.”

Los Angeles Times

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