USC athletic director Mike Garrett has apologized to Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley for inaccurately alleging that a member from the school illegally contacted Trojans freshman running back Dillon Baxter, according to a letter Garrett sent to Foley.
In the letter -- which was dated July 1 and seen by ESPN -- Garrett wrote that he spoke with Baxter and "he has now confirmed that he did not receive a call from your institution. Therefore, USC has no intention of pursuing this matter further. I apologize for any inconvenience or embarrassment this matter has caused to you and your institution."
In a letter dated June 11 -- also seen by ESPN -- USC director of compliance Matt Billings informed a Pac-10 enforcement official that Florida, Washington, Oregon, Fresno State and Alabama allegedly had contacted Baxter after the NCAA hit the Trojans with a number of penalties, including a two-year postseason ban, for improper benefits to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush dating to the Trojans' 2004 national championship.
Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State also have confirmed receiving the letter of apology.
That letter from Billings to Ron Barker, the Pac-10's associate commissioner for governance and enforcement, stated in part: "I just met with [Baxter] and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions [June 10]. All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring from USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?"
Baxter had one of the best springs of any incoming freshman in the country, drawing comparisons from USC coach Lane Kiffin to Bush, a fellow native of San Diego. Baxter's highlight-film runs drew thousands of hits on YouTube.
NCAA rules state that schools can contact juniors or seniors on a team facing a two-year postseason ban, but not other players.
As a senior at Mission Bay High School, Baxter ran for a San Diego-record 2,984 yards on 261 carries (11.4 avg.) with 50 TDs while accounting for a state-record 79 touchdowns on offense. He was named EA Sports Mr. Football USA and Max Preps national player of the year.
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.