USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw has admitted to lying about how he suffered his ankle injuries last weekend and has been suspended indefinitely, the school said in a statement Wednesday.
Shaw said he suffered a pair of high ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool. Shaw said his nephew did not know how to swim. He admitted to team officials on Wednesday that the story was a complete fabrication.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday the school received several calls questioning the authenticity of Shaw’s story and had been investigating the matter.
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” Sarkisian said in the 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.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. 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.”
The school did not specify in its statement how Shaw actually sustained his injuries. Shortly after USC issued its statement, Shaw’s attorney released his own statement in which Shaw said he injured himself “in a fall.”
“I made up a story about this fall that was untrue,” Shaw said. “I was wrong not to 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.”
Earlier in the day, Sarkisian had said the school’s investigation into the authenticity of Shaw’s story was in a “holding pattern” and was being handled by campus authorities.
After Wednesday’s practice, only two players — Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard — were made available to the media and both players said they had not seen nor spoken to Shaw since the story broke and had not tried to reach out to him. Team leaders held a short meeting with Sarkisian on the field after practice about dealing with the situation.
“None of the players really know about the Josh Shaw situation,” Williams said. “[Sarkisian] basically told us to stay focused and don’t let it affect us on Saturday. We’ve had to deal with so much more adversity the past years even before this. Our team has adjusted to playing through adversity.”
Williams and Pullard said they saw no need to reach out to Shaw and discover for themselves what really happened the night he was injured.
“I really don’t know,” Pullard said when asked why neither he nor any of the teammates he has talked to has reached out to Shaw. “He and Sark had a meeting together and we haven’t seen him since that day. We’re just leaving it to Coach Sark, he’s the head man and that’s who we answer to.”
Sarkisian addressed reporters for only five minutes after practice. He spent two minutes addressing the Shaw situation before only taking football questions.
Shaw was on campus Tuesday but not at practice and had numerous in-person discussions with campus officials. He was not seen on campus Wednesday but continued to be in contact with campus officials before finally admitting later that afternoon that he had lied to them.
Officer Jane Kim of the Los Angeles Police Department said Wednesday night that Josh Shaw was mentioned — but not as a suspect — in a report involving a Saturday night break-in at a downtown apartment building.
“On August 23, at around 10:40 p.m., officers responded to a radio call of a screaming woman at the 500 block of Figueroa,” Kim told ESPNLA. “They met witnesses who directed them to the apartment. After knocking on the door there was no response and officers made entry. No one was home. When they looked at the apartment they observed that the rear window had been pried open. Witnesses identified a male, black with dreadlocks leaving the apartment from the balcony. During the investigation the person who lives in the apartment returned and talked about her roommate and boyfriend, Josh Shaw, but he is not named as a suspect.”
A source told ESPNLA.com that witnesses told police an individual matching Shaw’s description was seen jumping off of a three-story balcony at the Orsini Apartments near USC’s campus where Shaw’s girlfriend lives.
Donald Etra, Shaw’s lawyer, said on Wednesday night Shaw’s injury was suffered while falling off the balcony at the Orsini Apartments on Saturday night.
“My understanding is that there is nothing criminal about this whatsoever,” Etra told ESPNLA. “There is no criminal activity whatsoever.”
Etra said he was hired by Shaw on Wednesday to give him advice. When asked why Shaw would need a criminal defense lawyer, Etra said, “Intelligent people hire lawyers.” When asked if he would try to get Shaw reinstated on the team he said, “If he asks my advice, I’m certainly ready, willing and able to give it.”
A transfer from Florida, Shaw has six interceptions in two seasons at USC. He was voted a team captain last weekend and is expected to be a major part of the Trojans’ secondary after starting all 14 games in 2013.