The University of Southern California football team suspended defensive captain Josh Shaw days before its season-opening game after the senior cornerback acknowledged he lied about injuring his ankles attempting to rescue his nephew from a swimming pool.
Shaw, 22, apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates and athletic department officials, saying in a statement that “I made up a story.”
USC, ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press preseason poll, opens its season in two days at home against Fresno State. Shaw’s indefinite suspension from all team activities leaves the Trojans without a player who started all 14 games last year, totaling 67 tackles and four interceptions
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” USC football coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement released yesterday by the Los Angeles-based school. “He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.”
Sarkisian previously told reporters that Shaw’s story about rescuing a 7-year-old nephew who couldn’t swim was “heroic.” USC initially said Shaw jumped off a second-floor balcony onto concrete while at a family function on Aug. 23, spraining both ankles and then crawling to the pool.
USC later said it was investigating the story after receiving information contradicting Shaw’s version of events. The Los Angeles Police Department said Shaw’s name popped up in a police report from an incident that occurred at an apartment complex the night of Aug. 23, the Los Angeles Times reported, without elaborating.
Shaw’s attorney, Donald Etra, said in a telephone interview that his client was injured after he fell off a balcony. He wouldn’t comment further on the incident.
“I made up a story about this fall that was untrue,” Shaw said in an e-mailed statement. “I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part.”
Shaw’s rehabilitation from the ankle injuries is going “great” and he hopes to play again for USC soon, Etra said. USC hasn’t said how long Shaw might be out. The Trojans play at 11th-ranked Stanford in their second game on Sept. 6.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized,” said Sarkisian, who is in his first season as USC’s coach after five years at the University of Washington. “Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him.”
Shaw, who transferred to USC from the University of Florida in 2012, is studying sociology and was chosen to speak at the 2014 USC Student-Athlete Graduation ceremony, according to his bio on the school’s website.
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