“He’s still young, a true freshman,” Kiffin said. “He’ll just make better decisions, even though I’m sure a lot of people will look at this one as something that could happen to anybody. He wasn’t necessarily in the wrong, but it doesn’t matter. He’s already put himself in a position where there isn’t any room for poor judgment.”
The Trojans left Baxter home from last week’s trip to Oregon State while his eligibility was investigated after he accepted a ride across campus with Teague Egan, a USC student who is registered as a financial adviser with the NFLPA. Egan is the chairman of 1st Round Enterprises, a management firm with a website but no apparent clients.
After a brief hospital stint earlier in the week with an illness and dehydration, Baxter accepted a ride across campus from Egan in a golf cart with the 1st Round logo emblazoned on the front. A staffer in USC’s beefed-up compliance department spotted Baxter and reported the incident to the school, which immediately investigated.
Baxter made restitution for the incident by paying $5 _ the estimated cost of the cart ride _ to a charity.
Baxter has rushed for 248 yards and one touchdown in his freshman season with the Trojans, starting one game and emerging as starter Marc Tyler’s backup. He was among the nation’s top recruits last year out of his native San Diego, but his first year at USC has been inconsistent at best.
“He gives us some things that other guys don’t,” Kiffin said. “It’s been an up-and-down season for him, and some of that is his fault, and some our fault. … The last two days, he has done a really good job of preparation and execution with everything going on. With that behind him, hopefully he can have a good week of work.”
Even in such seemingly meaningless incidents, USC realizes it’s on the edge of serious trouble unless it responds properly.
The school was put under significant NCAA sanctions during the summer after a four-year investigation into the athletic department under dismissed athletic director Mike Garrett. The NCAA blamed the school for lavish extra benefits provided to Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo.
New athletic director Pat Haden has plans for an 11-person compliance department _ but he never anticipated worrying about agents taking classes next to his students.
The 1st Round website also listed former USC linebacker Jordan Campbell as a partner in its entertainment division last week. Campbell has since been removed from the site.
Campbell transferred to Louisville in June after getting into a disagreement with Kiffin’s new staff. He has been practicing with the Cardinals since August, but wasn’t cleared by the NCAA to play this fall.
Louisville’s compliance department is investigating Campbell’s involvement with 1st Round.