USC and Washington are investing whether Huskies assistant and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi violated NCAA rules by paying for private tutoring and online classes for a recruit.
According to an LA Times report, the allegations surround the recruitment of Andrew Basham, a former defensive lineman at Lynnwood (Wa.) High.
Basham signed a letter of intent with Washington last February but failed to qualify academically.
Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Lupoi, “gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.”
Lupoi, who played at Cal from 2000-05, joined new USC coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Washington in 2012 after serving as Cal’s defensive line coach for four seasons. He is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top recruiters.
The Times said Lupoi did not return phone calls for interview requests, but did respond to the allegations in a text message that read, “Well that’s certainly false. I deny such allegations of violating NCAA rules w/ the recruitment of Andrew Basham.”
USC officials confirmed that Lupoi is among the coaches that Sarkisian listed as potential candidates to become Trojans assistants, and the school said that all possible names were vetted. Last week, both USC’s compliance office and the Times received a tip from someone who said Davis had been the middleman in a transaction between Lupoi and a recruit.
After speaking with both Davis and also with Sarkisian, USC’s vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts told The Times that he does not believe Sarkisian knew about the alleged activity.
“We don’t have concerns about Steve’s involvement,” Roberts said.
Sarkisian has hired three former Washington assistants — Johnny Nansen, Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon — but is still in the process of assembling his USC staff.
A source at USC with knowledge of the hiring process told the Times that Lupoi’s chance of being hired by USC was now “less than zero.”
Lupoi is currently part of Washington’s interim staff that is preparing for Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl game against BYU. New Washington coach Chris Petersen has yet to finalize his staff.
Shondell Reed, Washington’s senior associate athletic director for compliance, said Lupoi informed him last Friday that The Times was about to publish an article about allegations regarding Basham’s recruitment. Reed then alerted the Pac-12 Conference office and was told that USC had received a tip and was investigating.
Reed told the Times that that he did not know the specifics of the allegations but that Lupoi “denies any wrongdoing or violations of NCAA rules. He said he doesn’t know why he would be accused of this and vehemently denies doing anything wrong.”
Davis is scheduled to meet with officials from Washington and USC in Seattle on Friday.