Joe McKnight Caught In Lie Over Illegal SUV Use?

Gary Klein and Lance Pugmire of the LOS ANGELES TIMES appear to have nailed Joe McKnight to the floorboards over the improper use of an SUV.

Joe McKnight, star tailback of USC’s football team, has been driving a sport utility vehicle owned by a Santa Monica businessman, an arrangement the school is investigating and may be in violation of college rules.

Joe McKnight SUV: Ilegal Use?

The NCAA, which governs major college sports, prohibits student athletes from accepting benefits from marketing representatives or agents or “extra benefits” based on their athletic ability.

The SUV is registered to Scott Schenter.

Schenter, 47, has a background that includes marketing, and a company he owned registered a website called 4joemcknight.com. It is unclear whether Schenter has any ties with USC or the school had knowledge of his activities.

Schenter also has owned the domain uscmarketing.com and “filed papers in May 2008” to start a company called “USC Marketing.”

And that’s not even the worst part. Not even close.

Klein and Pugmire report that a “Times reporter” repeatedly (”several times“) watched McKnight drive the vehicle, but when confronted about it McKnight said he had never driven the SUV.

Approached Wednesday after practice, McKnight acknowledged riding in the Land Rover but said he has never driven it. McKnight said his girlfriend, Johana Michelle Beltran, works as a secretary for Schenter, although the player said he did not know him.

Now the worst part:

Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration, said Friday McKnight did provide the school with written documentation that he was driving the vehicle. Athletics’ spokesman Tim Tessalone said the running back had been “mistaken” in his account. Tessalone declined a request to see the documentation or say when the information was filed.

Last part is extremely important because if McKnight did document that he was driving the vehicle with the school, USC might be considered complicit in a possible NCAA rules violation.

Finally, Klein and Pugmire report that McKnight’s girlfriend and mother flew to the USC-Washington game in Seattle in September, and “McKnight said he didn’t know who paid for their transportation to the game.”

If the L.A. Times reportage about the SUV is accurate, it’s reasonable to think that McKnight may miss USC’s bowl game against Boston College in San Francisco Dec. 26.

If it appears there could be NCAA violations out of this situation, McKnight will also be gone to the NFL.

I want to feel bad for McKnight, but his sheer stupidity and subsequent lack of honesty makes that almost impossible.

UPDATE: Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS has a follow:

USC coach Pete Carroll has confirmed an L.A. Times report that the school is investigating Joe McKnight for allegedly driving a sport utility vehicle owned by a Santa Monica businessman. Carroll was unsure if this would affect McKnight’s status for the bowl game.