Southern California tailback Marc Tyler has been suspended from all team activities and the Trojans' season opener for comments he made to TMZ that implied he gets paid to play for USC.
When asked by TMZ whether he could make more money at USC or in the NFL, Tyler said, "USC, they breaking bread," making a gesture indicating a large stack of money.
USC coach Lane Kiffin suspended his leading rusher Monday for the Sept. 3 opener against Minnesota and possibly longer. The fifth-year senior is facing potential discipline from the school after what he said were two alcohol-related problems in April.
"I am disappointed that I let down all the people who have supported me as I have been working through some personal issues," Tyler said in a statement released by the school. "I realize how my behavior and my statements, even though I was joking, can reflect poorly on so many people. As a veteran player, I should know that my job is to be an example for the younger guys."
TMZ recorded Tyler's comments last Thursday outside Voyeur, a West Hollywood nightclub. Tyler, who turns 23 in September, also made a distasteful comment to TMZ about Kim Kardashian, Bush's ex-girlfriend.
"That is not the way that we expect our players to represent USC and our team," Kiffin said. "Although Marc may find this punishment severe, it is imperative we continue to have a high standard for player behavior. Marc needs to work hard to show us that he can meet the standards of being a USC football player."
Athletic director Pat Haden said Tyler "stepped way out of line. He did not represent himself, his university or his team the way we expect. Marc has a lot to do to prove he belongs on our team. We hope Marc learns from this and comes back a changed and better person."
Last month, Tyler said he had appeared before the school's Office of Student Judicial Affairs to discuss two complaints made against him in April. Tyler was accused of spitting on a female student while intoxicated, and later touching another female student inappropriately at a bar near USC's downtown campus.
Tyler acknowledged those problems could lead to student discipline, but he didn't expect to be dismissed from school with no prior history of problems. Tyler also said he sought counseling this summer.
Tyler is the son of famed running back Wendell Tyler, who attended UCLA before an NFL career with the Rams and the 49ers. Marc Tyler played high school football in the Los Angeles suburbs with Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen, his close friend.
Tyler rushed for 913 yards and nine touchdowns last season, starting eight games during a yearlong struggle for playing time in the Trojans' deep backfield. He struggled with injuries for much of his first three years at USC, and he missed much of spring practice after reporting overweight and injuring his hamstring on the first day of workouts.
Tyler could have been the Trojans' unquestioned starter as the only returning tailback with significant experience. Multiposition threat Dillon Baxter is back for his sophomore season, while junior Curtis McNeal returns after missing last year with academic problems.
"I accept my punishment and I regret that I will miss the opening game of my senior year," Tyler said. "I am committed to doing everything the right way so that I can be reinstated to the team."