Ex-USC assistant sues school, says he was forced out for reporting NCAA violations

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LOS ANGA former USC assistant says he was forced out because he reported NCAA violations.ELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: USC takes the field during a college football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans on November 24, 2018, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A former USC assistant says he was forced out because he reported NCAA violations. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A former USC football assistant is suing the school, alleging he was pushed out from his position after he reported potential NCAA violations within the program.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Rick Courtright, who served as a defensive quality control assistant for three years, alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday that USC undergraduate students were paid to take online classes for football graduate assistants.

In the lawsuit, Courtright alleges he overheard two graduate assistants discussing the supposed arrangement with Clandy Pendergast, USC’s defensive coordinator.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Rick Courtright said in the lawsuit he overheard graduate assistants Brett Arce and Austin Clark discuss working with defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to pay two students to take online classes for the graduate assistants. The lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court said Courtright later witnessed Pendergast, who is named in the complaint along with the school, hand an unspecified amount of cash to Clark. He passed it to one of the students.

Courtright, who is seeking at least $2 million in damages, says he reported what he saw, as well as other minor violations, to USC Athletics’ compliance department while also filing an anonymous complaint with the school. Courtright believes coming forward led to USC head coach Clay Helton ultimately telling him — at Pendergast’s behest, per the lawsuit — that “things weren’t working out” and he did not want to bring him back for the following season. The lawsuit alleges that message was delivered in January 2018 and Helton, in April of that year, gave Courtright two options: Resign or get fired. Courtright eventually resigned in May 2018.

Courtright was an assistant coach or worked in scouting at the collegiate and NFL level for more than three decades. After his time at USC came to an end, he briefly served as defensive coordinator at Mayville State University in North Dakota before accepting a position in the United States Army.

“As a result of his forced resignation, Courtright has suffered physical and mental harm,” the lawsuit says. “He has also suffered economic harm and he believes he is unlikely to be hired as a football coach by another college or university.”

USC said it is investigating the claims made in the lawsuit.

“The university strives to ensure compliance with NCAA rules,” the school said in a statement.

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