USC isn’t going to be publicly embracing former Trojan RB O.J. Simpson after his release from prison this fall.
This isn’t surprising in the slightest. Simpson is one of the most controversial sports figures of the past 50 years. But USC coach Clay Helton was asked about Simpson’s possible presence at Pac-12 media days Thursday and Helton had this to say.
“Currently right now, what the USC administration and athletic department has said is no, O.J. Will not be a part of our functions or invited,” Helton said. “That’s been the statement by the university.”
Simpson was granted parole earlier this month after serving nine years of a 33-year sentence for an armed robbery committed in 2007. He committed the robbery in an attempt to retrieve memorabilia he thought was his.
An official for the Pro Football Hall of Fame told ESPN that all Hall of Famers — and that includes Simpson — are welcome to attend enshrinement ceremonies. But Simpson wouldn’t be able to do so until 2018 at the earliest if he wanted to. This year’s ceremonies are in August and he’ll still be in prison at that time.
Immediately allowing Simpson to be an invited figure at USC functions is inviting unnecessary attention for the school and football program. Simpson is still liable for over $30 million to the families of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman regarding a civil judgment against him following their killings. (As you know, Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal case surrounding their deaths.)
Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy while at USC. He also may not even be in California after he gets out from prison. He’s said he’ll be going to Florida after his release.
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