The NCAA's Committee on Infractions has a big, complicated case on its hands regarding the thousands of dollars in cash, clothes and other benefits given to O.J. Mayo by Rodney Guillory, who was acting as a runner for an agent, former confidant Louis Johnson told ESPN's "Outside the Lines."
Here are some of the key issues and questions in the Mayo case that will need to be answered, according to sources with knowledge of the process:
• What's next?
USC has been conducting its own self-investigation, and the Los Angeles Daily News reported last week that the school expects to report to the NCAA this week that it was unaware of any improper activity between Mayo and Guillory.
The Pac-10 and the NCAA have been looking into Mayo and USC, but no timetable is known for when for their investigation or when they will announce their findings.
• How much will it help or hinder the NCAA's investigation that Johnson, a former Mayo associate, talked to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" before the NCAA?
When someone goes public, that can have an adverse affect on the NCAA's investigation because it allows the potential violators to cover their paper trail.
• Why can't the NCAA just take what Johnson said on ESPN and use it as the record in the case?
It could. But the enforcement staff would say the questions it needs to ask might not have been asked on the show that aired on TV. The enforcement staff would need to talk to Johnson about how much USC knew, what USC knew and what USC should have known to ultimately determine if there should be a penalty for the school.
Mayo's possible violations are important. But ultimately, if the institution is going to receive a penalty, what the coaches and staff knew will be crucial to the case.
Also, in this case, USC and the Pac-10, as well as the NCAA, are going to want to talk to any key witnesses. If any of the key figures in this case don't want to talk to USC or the Pac-10, it could slow the investigation. There are times when the NCAA conducts an investigation and the people involved don't want to talk to the school.
• Who has to talk to the NCAA's enforcement staff?
The only people who are under an obligation to speak to the NCAA are those who are employed at a member institution or are currently eligible student-athletes.
In this case, Mayo has signed with an agent (although he has since cut ties with agents Bill Duffy and Calvin Andrews) and is no longer an eligible student-athlete. USC head coach Tim Floyd and the assistant coaches are all required to talk to the NCAA if requested. Guillory, Johnson and agents Duffy and Andrews are under no obligation to speak to NCAA investigators.
In cases in which boosters are involved, it is in their best interest to talk because they can be banished from contact with program.
• How long will this case take?
This is considered a complicated case, and with so many people who aren't obligated to talk, it could be strung out for quite some time. There is a chance it could take more than a year. But few involved in this case will want it to drag out that long.
• How will the investigation be handled?
The NCAA enforcement staff, the investigator of potential violations, has the power to tell a school not to do anything and that the NCAA will handle the case itself. But more often than not, the NCAA will work with the institution and the conference if need be.
Ultimately, the NCAA Committee on Infractions will determine possible penalties after a full report is first made by the NCAA enforcement staff.
• What are the key questions the enforcement staff would be looking for to see if USC is culpable?
What did USC know, what should it have known and what actions did it take?
Each school is responsible for monitoring its own student-athletes for possible violations. If violations are found, the school is expected to self-report the violations.
USC might say that it did take action in taking away Guillory's free tickets from the friends and family section of USC home games, as reported by the LA Daily News. But the key piece of evidence will be what information was available to USC at that time, what steps it took and whether it should have done more.
• How much does the ongoing Reggie Bush investigation affect the Mayo case?
Bush, the 2005 Heisman winner, has been accused of receiving extra benefits from an aspiring agent while playing football at USC. But there has been no decision made in that case.
The NCAA enforcement staff will decide soon whether to roll the Mayo and Bush cases into one case.
If the same bylaw -- a player's receiving extra benefits -- was violated (even in two different sports), USC could be found to lack institutional control.
• Can Mayo make the argument that he had a pre-existing relationship with Guillory, so any gifts wouldn't be considered an extra benefit?
That would be difficult since the pre-existing relationships don't just deal with knowing someone before you started college. One of the main ways the NCAA's enforcement staff determines if there was a pre-existing relationship is to see when it started and whether or not basketball was involved. Under the NCAA rules, a pre-existing relationship cannot be based on athletic ability. If Guillory knew Mayo growing up before he became a prospect, then it would be OK. But, as is the case here, Guillory got to know Mayo only after he was a prospect. That most likely wouldn't meet the pre-existing relationship criteria.
• What are the penalties that could hit Mayo?
The only thing that could happen to Mayo if he is deemed to have been ineligible is that his records at USC could be expunged from the school's media guide, and it will appear as if he never played at USC.
Marcus Camby was found to have accepted about $28,000 from agents while at UMass, and the NCAA vacated the Minutemen's 1996 Final Four appearance. Camby later repaid UMass the $151,000 it lost in the Final Four tournament money, but the NCAA has no power to require such action.
• What is the range of penalties for USC if a violation is found?
The enforcement staff will have to determine if a violation occurred and whether or not it was an institutional violation. Then it will have to decide if it was a major violation or a secondary violation before it would even get to the Committee on Infractions.
If it does get to the COI, that committee could hand out penalties of the full spectrum, from probation and public reprimand to postseason ban. The NCAA could also vacate USC's wins in which Mayo played (all 21 victories) and this year's NCAA tournament appearance.
• Will USC's previous case involving Guillory affect this case?
In 2000, it was discovered that Guillory had provided airline tickets for then-USC basketball player Jeff Trepagnier. That previous history with USC and Guillory wouldn't come into play until the COI hears the case. If it gets to that point, the COI could consider that USC should have known about Guillory's previous violation.
• What effect will Mayo's case have on possible other informants coming forward about potential runner-agent-player relationships in college basketball?
It's hard to say. But one theory is that the players might start to ask questions and wonder why, if so much cash is changing hands, they aren't getting the majority of the money instead of an alleged small portion, as was reported in this case. Handlers and runners are rampant in the sport. The hope for the NCAA is that they start turning on each other to out a competitor.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.