May 13, 2009
After last night's little advisory for everyone to read Charles Robinson and Jason Cole's report on Tim Floyd's alleged cash gift to Rodney Guillory, O.J. Mayo's handler, I had no idea what to expect, comment-wise. Turns out, the few of you that took the time out from whatever you were doing last night -- hopefully not watching much of the Lakers-Rockets blowout -- are unimpressed.
I would chalk that up to a mere small sample size, but a quick look at Ballhype this morning shows that only two people have linked to the story, and the story they're linking to isn't even the Yahoo! Sports report; it's the ESPN write-up of the Yahoo! Sports report. (Bad form, blog brethren. Bad form.) The actual report hasn't even made the front page.
These are just two small indicators -- a handful of comments and the trackbacks from overnight bloggers -- but they're starting to make me wonder if maybe nobody cares about Tim Floyd.
Maybe. Maybe people just don't care about cheating in college sports. Which is kind of defensible, actually; whatever your stance on this particular case is, I think we can all agree that plenty of people are doing plenty of unsavory things in college hoops recruiting year after year, and that $1,000 isn't exactly a huge sum of money when boosters and the like get involved. As a basketball-watching populace, maybe we're numb to this stuff. We have everyone right to be.
That's all good in theory. In practice, though, this is a really big deal for Tim Floyd and USC. Louis Johnson, the former Mayo confidante alleging the transfer of money, isn't just saying this stuff to reporters. Yahoo! Sports isn't the only person fact-checking him. Johnson is saying this stuff to the FBI, IRS, and U.S. Attorney's Office, and if he lies, he's in big trouble than a major NCAA violation. From the story:
It was disclosed to Yahoo! Sports last week by Johnson’s attorneys, Anthony V. Salerno and David Murphy. The attorneys confirmed that Johnson had gone on the record with his account of the payment twice: first in a group interview in front of the FBI, IRS and U.S. Attorney’s Office on May 28, 2008, and again in the second of two interviews with NCAA investigators, which took place last week. Two members of USC’s outside counsel also took part in the second NCAA interview and heard Johnson’s account of Floyd’s alleged payment. Salerno added that Johnson’s account to federal authorities carried the threat of potential prosecution if Johnson was found to be lying.
“Louis knew that if he didn’t tell the truth in that meeting, he’d be in the same boat that Martha Stewart was in for deceiving federal authorities,” Salerno said. “The agreement that he was under, the explicit agreement was that he had to be completely truthful in his statement. Lying to a federal agent is a whole crime unto itself. If you’re going to talk to them at all, you have to tell the truth.”
Now, maybe Johnson really is lying about a $1,000 cash payment under threat of federal prosecution, but don't you sort of doubt it? Why risk that? This isn't the mafia. Johnson has no code of Omertà to uphold. There's really no reason for him to lie, other than to protect Tim Floyd and USC from NCAA violations. This isn't gossip. It isn't just a report. It's a huge, multi-faceted story, and the end result after reading it ought to be less about doubt than it is about how totally screwed Floyd's Trojans program seems to be. Apathy might be the appropriate theoretical response, but down in the real world, this thing matters.