Get ready for the next big SEC scandal. It involves South Carolina, but in this case it's the real SEC -- Securities & Exchange Commission -- that might have a keen interest in the questionable activities of current and former USC athletes and coaches.
In 1999 the real SEC (as in the Securities & Exchange Commission) shut down Cash 4 Titles, an auto title loan company. The SEC called Cash 4 Titles "one of the largest pyramid schemes in the nation’s history." More than 2,000 people invested $200 million with the company, including former former USC receiver Robert Brooks and former USC football coaches Brad Scott and Jim Carlen.
One of the ringleaders of the Cash 4 Titles scam was notorious sports agent and former USC assistant football coach Tank Black. In 2002 Black was convicted of stealing at least $12 million from several professional athlete clients.
Which brings us to the present. Apparently South Carolina is still fertile ground for money scams. According to a story in The State, ex-USC running back Rob DeBoer, founder of online music retailer BurnLounge, "now stands accused by the Federal Trade Commission of operating a pyramid scheme. DeBoer's partner is ex-USC quarterback and Gamecock football announcer Todd Ellis — helping turn Columbia into ground zero for BurnLounge."
According to The State, "Gamecocks receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. invested in BurnLounge a year ago after Oklahoma coach Stoops introduced him to the concept."
As a loyal USC assistant football coach Spurrier, Jr. isn't going to point fingers, right? After all, he's the ultimate coach's son. Actually Spurrier, Jr. in full-on-cover-his-ass mode, said:
"When Bob Stoops got me, he said, ‘I’ve spoken to a lawyer about this. I’ve spoken to my agent. I’ve spoken to some people to find out if this is a legitimate thing. And everything they told me, this is a legitimate (business). Put your name on it and go do it.’”
This appears to be a classic multi-level marketing scheme: a chance to easy make money, perceived credibility (even if none actually existed), and strong word of mouth.
UPDATE: According to Darren Rovell over at CNBC some pretty big sports figures are connected to BurnLounge, including "Shaquille O’Neal, who signed to represent the Web site in September. Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and John Salley have been listed on the company’s materials."