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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
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NCAA Hit With $25M Defamation Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CN) - An events promoter claims the National Collegiate Athletic Association defamed him by claiming he acted as O.J. Mayo's "handler" and gave him cash, gifts and "extra benefits," in an investigative report that led to sanctions against the University of Southern California.

Rodney Guillory, the so-called "mayor of prep basketball" in Southern California, demands $25 million from the NCAA, claiming its report "mischaracterizes and misrepresents" his relationship with the former Trojan star who now plays for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

"Rather than showing that Guillory was providing love, comfort, society, support, mentorship and guidance to Mayo, he was labeled as a 'professional leech' with intentions of only profiting from Mayo once Mayo turned pro," Guillory claims in Superior Court.

Guillory says he met Mayo at a summer basketball camp in New Jersey, when Mayo was in seventh grade. He claims he viewed Mayo as a son or nephew, and Mayo described Guillory as a "friend," "mentor" and "positive African-American male influence."

Before Mayo enrolled at USC, the NCAA conducted a six-month investigation of his eligibility as part of the NCAA's new amateurism certification review process.

"The investigation thoroughly examined the nature of Mayo's and Guillory's relationship," the lawsuit states.

The NCAA ultimately concluded that Mayo was eligible without restrictions, and that his relationship with Guillory was "acceptable" because it began before Mayo was a prospective student athlete, according to the lawsuit.

Shortly after Mayo announced his decision to turn pro after his first season with USC, convicted felon Louis Johnson allegedly accused Guillory of giving Mayo and his friends and family gifts, cash and "extra benefits."

Guillory says the NCAA again investigated and "took the most cynical view of Plaintiff Guillory and Mayo's relationship," deeming Guillory a "handler" and a "booster" of USC.

"Guillory was neither a 'handler' nor an agent or person acting on behalf of an agent at the time of his dealings with Mayo and, based on the prior investigation, the NCAA knew it," the lawsuit states.

The report allegedly accused Guillory of giving Mayo "automobile transportation," "basketball skills instruction," "dinner at no cost," free clothing and other "inducements."

"The mere use of the term 'inducements' in these allegations suggests and falsely represents that Plaintiff Guillory had ulterior motives relating to his involvement with Mayo," the lawsuit states. "The report also fails to mention that the 'automobile transportation' was a ride in Plaintiff Guillory's car ... the meals at no cost were home-cooked meals ... the basketball instruction was not pre-arranged nor paid for by anyone, and the clothing provided to Mayo and his brother were leftover 'freebies' from various basketball camps."

Guillory admits that he wired money to Mayo's girlfriend's mother, but claims it was because he was dating her at the time. He says the NCAA knew about their romantic relationship, but "chose to ignore that fact."

He wants the NCAA to pay $25 million for defamation, false light invasion of privacy and negligent misrepresentation.

He is represented by Edward Lee of Lee & Fields in Los Angeles.

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