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USC, UCLA Coaches Named In College Admissions Scandal

3/12/2019 8:39 AM PDT
Breaking News

3:01 PM PT -- USC has fired water polo coach Jovan Vavic and Senior Associate AD Donna Heinel.

11:08 AM PT -- The NCAA released a statement addressing the scandal ... saying, "The charges brought forth today are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education. We are looking into these allegations to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated."

Multiple prominent members of the USC Trojans athletic department have been indicted in a far-reaching college admissions scandal ... where they allegedly took bribes to help students gain admission. 

USC senior associate athletic director Dr. Donna Heinel, ex-USC women's head soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin and ex-assistant soccer coach Laura Janke are all named ... as well as current USC men's water polo head coach Jovan Vavic

Vavic -- a 13-time national coach of the year -- has 14 national titles under his belt during his tenure at the University of Southern California. 

The general allegations go something like this -- William Rick Singer, a guy who runs a college admissions prep service, would facilitate bribes to current and former USC coaches to designate prospective students as recruited athletes ... which would lower the academic standards for admission. 

The problem ... officials say the students were NOT recruited athletes and the coaches and other USC officials LIED in exchange for big money donations to USC and other payments. 

Here's a video of the U.S. Attorney's Office laying out the alleged scheme ... 

According to court documents, USC ain't alone in this -- at least one soccer coach from UCLA is named, along with a coach from Georgetown, a sailing coach at Stanford, a tennis coach at Texas, a coach from Wake Forest and even Yale

In regards to USC, officials say one of the parents involved in the scheme is Lori Loughlin -- whose daughters were allegedly recruited by USC's crew team, despite the fact they had no experience in crew. 

You can bet your ass the NCAA has eyes on this -- especially considering USC's legendary history of bribery and scandal in their athletic department. 

By the way, USC president Dr. Wanda M. Austin issued a statement saying USC is the VICTIM and not the bad guy here.

"The government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim and that these employees purposefully deceived USC."

She added, "It is immensely disappointing that individuals would abuse their position at the university in this way."

"We will continue to cooperate fully with all law enforcement and regulatory investigations."

Shareef O'Neal My Return To The Court? Six More Weeks!!!

3/3/2019 12:40 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Shareef O'Neal is ALMOST ready to hit the hardwood again ... the UCLA star tells TMZ Sports he's just a month and a half away from a return to the court!!!

"I feel great," he says.

Shareef underwent heart surgery to correct an irregularity back in December ... and his post-op pictures showed just how serious the procedure really was.

But, when we got the 19-year-old leaving Staples Center on Wednesday night ... he was in good spirits -- and tells us his first workouts since the operation are just DAYS away.

In fact, Shareef says Shaq will play a BIG role in his gameplan for a return to the Bruins when he's cleared, telling us his pops, "knows basketball."

Ya think?!

Shareef was an elite prospect coming out of Crossroads H.S. in Santa Monica ... and he famously flipped his commitment from Arizona to UCLA late in his recruiting process.

The power forward was expected to be a key piece of the Bruins this season ... but his heart surgery sidelined him for his entire freshman season.

UCLA's clearly missed him ... the team is just 16-13 this season and will likely miss the NCAA Tournament if they don't win the Pac-12 tourney this month.

DeSean Jackson Hated His Time W/ Chip Kelly ... 'Sh*t, It Wasn't Good'

2/2/2019 12:55 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

DeSean Jackson hated his one season with Chip Kelly SO much ... the dude says he's trying to forget it even happened -- telling TMZ Sports, "Sh*t, it wasn't good."

Of course, Chip's disastrous run as the Eagles coach is back in the news this week after Michael Vick said he legit CRIED over the way Kelly handled Philly's QB competition in 2013.

When we got D-Jax out at the EA Sports Madden Bowl event in Atlanta on Thursday night ... he backed up his former teammate -- saying playing for Chip sucked.

"He broke up a team that we felt could've done something special for a long time. So, I don't respect him."

In fact ... the 3-time Pro Bowl receiver tells us he's trying to block out that whole part of his NFL career -- saying it pisses him off remembering it.

"I really just try not to say too much about him, because that's a part of my life where it's kind of just some bull stuff that happened through that period."

FYI ... Jackson DID have the best year of his career under Chip in 2013 -- posting 1,332 receiving yards and 9 TDs.

Sooo ... least enjoyable Pro Bowl season ever???

Chip Kelly Kaepernick Should Be In NFL ... 'He's Ready To Go'

2/1/2019 9:30 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Colin Kaepernick is not only good enough to play in the NFL right now ... he's "ready to go" for a tryout ASAP -- so says his ex-49ers coach, Chip Kelly.

Kap played under Chip back in 2016 ... and actually began his anthem kneeling protests that season. The QB is now suing the NFL, claiming he's been blackballed by teams ever since.

Chip is now the head coach at UCLA -- and, when we got him out at Craig's on Thursday night ... he seemed to agree with Kap -- saying the guy is DEFINITELY still good enough to play in the league. 

In fact ... Chip tells us he's under the impression Kap could try out for a team TODAY -- and still impress.

"I think he's ready to go."

Of course, the league's commissioner says otherwise ... Roger Goodell just told reporters he believes it's Kap's skill set -- not his politics -- that is keeping him from playing.

But Chip tells us, "anybody that wants a good quarterback" should sign him.

BTW ... Chip was out at the L.A. hot spot with high school football star Puka Nacua -- one of the top WRs in the country who's visiting from Utah. 

The reason this is a big deal is because Puka had previously committed to USC ... yet, here he is at dinner with UCLA's top man just days before National Signing Day. 

So, can Chip flip Puka from Troy to Westwood??? We talked to Puka about it ... and it seems he's got a lot of thinking to do before putting the pen to paper. 

Baron Davis UCLA Needs To Hire Earl Watson ... I'll Be His Assistant

1/16/2019 1:29 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Baron Davis says he wants to see Earl Watson be UCLA's next head coach ... and if that happens -- the ex-NBA superstar says he'll be an assistant on the staff ... FOR FREE!!!

B-Diddy is one of the greatest UCLA Bruins ever ... and tells TMZ Sports the former Suns head coach and ex-UCLA player is the right man to replace Steve Alford in Westwood.

In fact, Baron wants to see Earl coach the team so badly ... he says he'd be down to be on Watson's staff -- and UCLA wouldn't even have to pay him!!

"If Earl Watson was the head coach, I would coach for free. I would do whatever for free."

Of course, lots of ex-UCLA players agree with Baron ... guys like Matt Barnes and Lonzo Ball have already made it clear Earl would be their choice for the job too.

Watson -- whose NBA career spanned from 2001 to 2014 -- has been out of professional coaching since being fired by the Suns last season.

USC Fans Face 3 Years In Jail For Allegedly Vandalizing UCLA Statue

1/10/2019 10:56 AM PST
Breaking News

Two USC fans have been charged for allegedly vandalizing UCLA's on-campus statue and now face up to 3 YEARS in JAIL.

Louis Torres (19) and Willie Johnson (18) allegedly hit up UCLA's campus on Nov. 13 -- just days before the Trojans' rivalry game with the Bruins -- and sought to violate the bear statue.

Officials say the two men doused the statue in Trojan-colored paint ... and also inked the letters "SC" into the landmark's pedestal.

It's interesting ... 'cause in preparation for the big game -- UCLA officials actually boxed up the bear ... which means the vandals had to go the extra mile to get to it ... physically prying open the box to get to the statue.

Reports estimate the vandalism caused $15,000 worth of damage ... and now, officials say both suspects could face up to 3 years in jail, if convicted.

This ain't the first time the Bruin bear has been subject to USC antics ... back in 2009, it was also doused in red and yellow paint -- which caused a reported $20,000 of damage.

For their part ... USC fans make sure UCLA can't retaliate by wrapping their on-campus statues in duct tape and having students guard them throughout rivalry week.

Shareef O'Neal Shows Off Gnarly Heart Surgery Scar ... '#Zipperboy'

1/2/2019 1:48 PM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal just revealed his heart surgery scar for the first time Wednesday ... and he's already given himself a new nickname, "Zipperboy."

TMZ Sports broke the story ... Shareef needed a heart procedure done after UCLA doctors detected an abnormality during a routine check-up.

O'Neal went under the knife on Dec. 13 ... but came out of it just fine -- and when he finally got a look at the scar this week, he was able to joke about it.

"My first time seeing my scar ..... #zipperboy."

The operation doesn't seem like it was a laughing matter though ... the scar runs from the top of his chest to halfway down to his belly button!!!

The good news ... Shaq told us just several days ago his son's doing okay -- and could be back on the basketball court in just a few months.

Shaq Shareef Gunning for April Return ... After Heart Surgery

12/23/2018 3:33 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Here's some great news going into your holiday weekend ... Shareef O'Neal could be back on the UCLA basketball court in 4 to 5 months! 

... this according to his dad, Shaq

The Diesel was at the Magic Wheels Toy Giveaway in L.A. doing his Santa Shaq thing (awesome, BTW) when he gave us the update on his son who underwent heart surgery on Dec. 13. 

As we previously reported, UCLA doctors detected an abnormality during a routine check up and advised O'Neal that a heart procedure was crucial. 

Shaq told us Shareef is continuing to focus on his recovery and hopes to be back on the floor as early as April -- which is fantastic news! 

There's more ... Shaq also weighed in on Lil Wayne recently saying he thinks Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan

When we asked Shaq to pick his #1 -- he went with someone else entirely ... not Magic Johnson, not LeBron, not himself! 

But, the best part of this clip is the great work Shaq continues to do in the community -- making sure every kid has a Merry Christmas! 

Shaq has been doing toy drives for 26 YEARS -- and you can tell from the video ... he's just as passionate about helping out now as he was when he started. 

Shareef O'Neal In Good Spirits After Heart Surgery

12/13/2018 8:09 PM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal is out of heart surgery -- and he's already thinking about his return to the basketball court! 

The UCLA basketball star went under the knife early Thursday morning to correct an irregularity that team doctors had spotted during a routine check-up earlier this year. 

The good news ... Shaquille O'Neal's 18-year-old was in great spirits when he got out of surgery Thursday evening -- and posted a message to his fans (that he dictated to his younger sister).  

"I made it, Thank you for all the love and support! I really appreciate all your thoughts and prayers, that's what helped me through this surgery."

He added, "I'm on the road to recovery, and I'll be back soon ... better than ever."

Shareef is already getting support from his famous friends including Dwyane Wade who wrote -- "Love you lil bro. You will come back stronger."

Austin Rivers added, "Stay up bro! Coming back stronger than ever."

Shareef O'Neal Undergoing Heart Surgery

12/13/2018 9:33 AM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal is currently undergoing heart surgery to correct an irregularity that forced the UCLA basketball star to miss the 2018 season ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

We broke the story ... Shaq's 18-year-old son -- one of the top college freshmen in the country -- learned about his medical condition during a routine checkup with team doctors earlier this year. 

At the time, Reef told us, "Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early."

On Thursday morning, Shareef went under the knife -- and his mother, Shaunie, was there to see him off. 

"This morning was by far my toughest moment being a Mom," she said in a statement.

"If only I could take his place today. Could I at least go with him in that operating room and hold his hand. Separating from him as he was wheeled off to surgery was heartbreaking. THATS MY BABY!"

"I don’t care how old, how big, how grown my kids get I still want to protect them. I had no control over any of this. But there is a God, I trust and believe He is in there with my baby right now and has complete control."

Shaunie is asking for prayers for Shareef. 

O'Neal previously told us he expects to make a full recovery and rejoin the UCLA Bruins basketball team in time for next season. 

Dahntay Jones If LaVar Ball Stays Quiet ... Duke Would Love LaMelo!

11/27/2018 8:28 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dahntay Jones tells TMZ Sports LaMelo Ball would be a great fit at Duke ... ONLY IF LaVar Ball stays quiet.

Of course ... Melo's recruitment is wide open these days -- especially after LaVar said there's no way in hell LaMelo follows in his brothers' footsteps to UCLA.

Jones -- an ex-Duke star -- says he could see a place for Melo with Coach K ... but says the Big Baller has to keep out of the limelight ... something he's been able to do recently.

"If [LaVar] can coexist like this, I think Duke would be a place for him. If LaVar operates like this right now, I think Coach K could find a way."

LaVar did make waves earlier this week for saying Melo is better right now than LeBron James was as a teenager -- but Jones says that statement wasn't THAT outlandish.

"That's what happens when you have sons. I think my son is better than LeBron in grade school right now ... That's just natural love for his son."

Bottom line ... Dahntay says it's the meddling with coaches, rosters, game plans and teams that LaVar needs to stay away from if he wants to see Melo at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"Just be a normal parent and operate like this and let his son's talent speak for itself."

LaVar Ball Blasts UCLA No Way LaMelo Goes There After LiAngelo Debacle

11/26/2018 6:04 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

There's a ZERO percent chance LaMelo Ball will follow in his bro's footsteps and play at UCLA next season ... so says LaVar Ball who tells us he's still furious over the way the school treated LiAngelo

17-year-old LaMelo is playing pretty well at the Spire Institute in Ohio -- and recently dropped 30 points during a game in Atlanta. 

LaVar tells us his son is "better than LeBron" was as a teenager -- calling him "unbeatable" and "the coldest person on two feet."

So, where's he gonna play his college ball next year? Definitely not in Westwood. 

"Heck no, he won't be at UCLA," LaVar says ... "UCLA? Why? After what they did to my other son? Are you crazy?"

Remember, LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA after the shoplifting incident in China. UCLA had suspended him indefinitely but that didn't sit well with LaVar. 

"Suspend him and don't tell him when he supposed to be able to play and all that? No, they ain't behind him like that. One mistake and now you put him to the side and act like he's supposed to come the next year?"

LaVar says he's also upset that UCLA forced LiAngelo to wear #15 when he wore #3 all his life -- "so it started off wrong."

As for LaMelo, Ball says he'll start taking recruiting trips to colleges "when he feels like it."

LaVar's oldest son Lonzo Ball went to UCLA before being selected by the Lakers with the #2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Shareef O'Neal Hangin' With LeBron Jr. At UCLA ... Recruiting Mission?

11/20/2018 7:34 AM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal might not be on the court at UCLA this year but he's still finding a way to give the rest of the PAC-12 fits ... 'cause he's getting in early on a BLUE-CHIP L.A recruit ... LeBron James Jr.

14-year-old Bronny hit the UCLA game Monday with his brother, Bryce, and the rest of the O'Neal kids -- including his current Crossroads schoolmate, Shaqir O'Neal

The whole crew was there to support Shareef -- a member of the UCLA team who's sidelined this season due to a heart condition. As we previously reported, he'll be undergoing surgery next month. 

The O'Neals and the James families are REALLY close ... so all of this could just be a fun night out, but you have to wonder if hanging around Westwood is gonna give the Bruins an inside track on Bronny for 2023.

We can't be sure about that, it's too early to tell ... but we are 100% sure about one thing.

These kids are growing like beanstalks, seriously. We have to know what Shaq, Shaunie, LeBron, and Savannah are feeding these children.

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