LOS ANGELES — USC cornerback Josh Shaw admitted to school officials that he had fabricated a story about rescuing a nephew from drowning and lied about how he suffered ankle injuries, the school announced Wednesday.
Shaw, who has been the focus of controversy the last two days, was suspended from the team indefinitely.
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” USC coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. “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.”
Shaw issued a statement through attorney Donald Etra, who the school said had been retained by the player as legal counsel.
“On Saturday, August 23, 2014, I injured myself in a fall. I made up a story about this fall that was untrue. I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part.
“My USC coaches, the USC Athletic Department, and especially Coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful.”
The school said Shaw had apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized,” Sarkisian said. “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.”
USC plays its opener against Fresno State on Saturday at the Coliseum.
Shaw trended nationally Monday after USC posted a story of its website of the alleged rescue of his nephew Saturday night, which included leaping from a second-story balcony at an apartment in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles.
Media outlets, included the Los Angeles Times, immediately responded with reports of Shaw’s courageous act and the story went viral of social media.
The story turned Tuesday when Sarkisian announced the school was investigating Shaw’s account after it received phone calls contradicting the story.
The Los Angeles Police Department later disclosed that Shaw’s name had popped up in a police report from an incident that occurred at a downtown Los Angeles apartment complex Saturday night.
After practice on Wednesday morning, Sarkisian had said the school was “somewhat in a holding pattern,” regarding the Shaw situation.
“It’s pretty clear there’s quite a few conflicting stories out there,” he said. “Any information that we’ve been provided up to this point we’ve pushed along to campus authorities. We’re really going to let it play out in their hands.”
Wednesday afternoon, USC senior athletic department officials met in the McKay Center.
About an hour later, the school made its announcement.
USC began insulating players on Wednesday, a day when all defensive players are typically made available to the media during game week.
But with the Shaw controversy swirling, only junior defensive end Leonard Williams and senior linebacker Hayes Pullard were allowed to speak with reporters.
Williams said he had not talked to Shaw, but that he was a topic of discussion among the players on Tuesday.
“All the players were just running into each other just asking what’s going on with the story, if it’s real or not, that’s all we really know,” Williams said. “We were pretty shocked because Josh Shaw is a pretty loyal guy since he’s been here. I would never expect him to make up a story or something like that. So if it’s real or not … I would never expect him as a captain to be in that situation.”
Sarkisian said the situation had not distracted the Trojans.
“We haven’t spent much time on (Shaw) at all, quite honestly, we’ve put in too much work over the last nine months to let an hour or two of social media and Internet reports distract us from being a great football team,” Sarkisian said. “If it does, then that’s not a great sign for us moving forward. We have to be strong enough to handle adversity whether it’s on the football field or off the field and continue to hang together and be together and go out and play great football.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services