Normally, the process of requesting credentials to cover a college football game is pretty straightforward and simple: Send us your name, affiliation, maybe whether you need parking, and that's about it.
But when your program is on NCAA probation because boosters, players and recruits had a too-cozy relationship, including on the sidelines and in locker rooms, things get a little more complicated.
That's what I discovered today as I used USC's new credential system, in preparation for the Sept. 3 season opener in the L.A. Coliseum. There are several pages of regulations to read -- sort of like accepting the new iTunes terms every two weeks -- and ends with an affirmation that "the information provided was truthful and complete."
Not sure if I'm under oath.
Among the steps was a six-question pledge, and I had to select Yes or No for each. One was the standard, 'we have the right to revoke' clause, but the next five were, ahem, violation-specific. Sort of like how we all have to take our shoes off at airports because one guy smuggled a bomb in his shoe. A few of the questions:
-- Do you agree not to have any contact with any USC prospective student-athlete (or their relatives or friends) before, during or after the game on the field sidelines? This includes in-person contact and written or electronic communications, either directly or via a third party.
-- Do you agree not to arrange, provide or promise to provide any benefits to any current USC student-athlete (or their relatives or friends) from yourself or on behalf of anyone else?
-- Do you certify that you are not an agent (e.g., sports agent, marketing agent or financial adviser to athletes) or any such agent's employee, representative or affiliate (including "runners")?
-- Do you certify you have not triggered the definition of a representative of USC's athletic interests by 1) making a financial (cash or in-kind) donation to the USC Athletic Department or one of its booster organizations; 2) participating in or becoming a member of an organization promoting USC's athletic programs (e.g., Cardinal & Gold, Trojan Club); 3) assisting the Athletic Department in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes; 4) assisting (or have assisted) in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or 5) being involved in promoting USC's athletics program?
I guess you have to applaud USC's newly discovered insistence on complying with NCAA rules, since lax enforcement was one reason the Trojans were punished so heavily, including a two-year ban on bowl games. Bet they wish they had this system in place five years ago.