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NCAAF: McKnight uncertain for Emerald Bowl

December 21, 2009

USC has already installed its game plan for Saturday’s game against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl. Joe McKnight’s   status is uncertain. USC is investigating the junior’s use of a sport utility vehicle that is registered to a Santa Monica businessman. It may constitute a violation of NCAA rules that prohibit student-athletes from accepting benefits from marketing representatives or agents, or “extra benefits” from anyone based on athletic ability. McKnight has said he never drove the 2006 Land Rover, which a Department of Motor Vehicles official said carried a purchase price of about $27,000. But McKnight has been observed driving the vehicle.

“We monitor more than 600 athletes very carefully and we have a very strong compliance program,” he said. “We believe we have a very good system in place. We think our controls and monitoring are very good.”

USC’s athletic program, like all major programs, “has a great deal of visibility,” said Tom Yeager, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee. “They know they’re higher-profile athletes and they’re under more scrutiny to begin with.”

Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Assn., allowed that “Los Angeles is a heck of a lot different than a small college burg where you run into everyone you know. There’s a certain reasonableness that comes into play.”

“Coaches know where they came from and what their means are,” Yeager said. “If all of a sudden a player who they know doesn’t have a lot of financial means is driving a car that seems to be very above what the normal student should be driving, and you’re walking by it every day, it’s kind of common sense that people should be seeking out details.”

Los Angeles Times

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