Baxter out after possible agent contact
Southern California freshman tailback Dillon Baxter was left home while the 20th-ranked Trojans traveled to Oregon State on Friday after what coach Lane Kiffin called inadvertent contact with an agent.
Kiffin described the contact Friday night in a video posted on USC's website.
Kiffin said Baxter got a ride on campus Thursday in a golf cart driven by two students. The coach said USC later learned one of the students "may be an agent."
The school immediately reported the incident to the NCAA, Kiffin said.
"Obviously, we take this very serious, and we talked to Dillon," Kiffin said. "Dillon didn't know that (the student might be an agent), but we've turned it in to the NCAA, and in the meantime, Dillon won't be going (on the trip)."
When Baxter didn't participate in Thursday's practice, the Trojans announced he had been hospitalized earlier in the day because of an illness and dehydration. It wasn't immediately clear whether both stories about Thursday's events were true.
USC was put under significant NCAA sanctions during the summer after a four-year investigation into the athletic department. The NCAA punished the Trojans for extra benefits allegedly provided to Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush by two aspiring sports marketers.
USC (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) is in the first season of a two-year bowl ban and four years of probation. The football program also lost 30 scholarships over the next three years.
Despite the sanctions and the subsequent loss of several backup players who were allowed to transfer without losing a season of eligibility, USC is tied for third in the conference standings with three wins in its last four games. After traveling to Oregon State, the Trojans finish their 13-game season against Notre Dame and UCLA.
Baxter was one of the nation's top recruits last year out of San Diego, also Bush's hometown. His elusive running style and versatility have earned additional comparisons to Bush, though he has flashed that form only sparingly during an inconsistent freshman season during which he acknowledged not always giving his best effort.
He is the Trojans' third-leading rusher with 248 yards and one touchdown, starting one game and emerging as Marc Tyler's primary backup. Baxter also has 11 receptions for 73 yards.
Allen Bradford is likely to be the Trojans' backup tailback against the Beavers.