Coach: "Conflicting Stories" Around USC Football Player's Account of Drowning Rescue

USC's football coach says he believes his player but is looking into phone calls that dispute the player's account of what happened. Los Angeles police say they've had "no contact" with him.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    USC football player Josh Shaw is being questioned after calls to the head coach negated his claim that he injured both his ankles while jumping off a second-story balcony to save his nephew from drowning. Mario Solis reports for NBC4 at 6 p.m. from Los Angeles Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014)

    USC's football coach said there are "quite a few conflicting stories out there" Wednesday when he addressed questions about a senior cornerback who is sidelined indefinitely after suffering ankle sprains that the player says occurred when he jumped from a second-floor balcony to rescue his nephew from a swimming pool.

    Senior cornerback Josh Shaw told USC's Ripsit Blog that he was on the second-floor balcony of his cousin’s Palmdale apartment on Aug. 23 when he saw his 7-year-old nephew struggling in the pool. Shaw told the blog, which is run by USC's athletics department, that he jumped off the balcony, landed on the concrete and crawled into the pool to rescue the child, suffering the sprains as a result of the jump.

    But in a press availability before practice Tuesday, coach Steve Sarkisian said he received "a few phone calls contradicting" Shaw's account.

    "Josh is adamant with what occurred," Sarkisian said. "We'll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and our phones and see where we can go from there."

    Sarkisian declined to elaborate on the details of the contradictory accounts during a Wedenesday media avialability. He said the team will let the investigation by campus officials "play out."

    "We're in somewhat of a holding pattern," Sarkisian said. "My main focus is on going out and playing a great football game Saturday. As much as we have the situation with Josh, I've got another 104 players in that locker room that I'm getting prepared to play.

    "We've put in too much work over the last nine months to let an hour or two of social media and internet reports from us being a great football team."

    A Los Angeles County fire official said the agency had no record of a call for service for a drowning either Saturday or Sunday in the Palmdale area. There was also no record of any call for service regarding a bilateral leg injury, the fire official said.

    It is possible that both Shaw and the nephew were driven to the hospital, in which case there would be no 911 record, a fire official said.

    The nephew was physically ok, but reportedly "traumatized," the blog reported.

    "I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew," Shaw told the blog Monday. "My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible."

    Shaw was named a team captain Saturday evening, just hours before he was hurt, the blog reported.

    Sarkisian told reporters he believes his player.

    "Josh Shaw, first and foremost, is a good person, he's a good kid," Sarkisian said. "He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story of what has occurred."

    Sarkisian said they would look into the calls about what happened.

    Los Angeles police said Tuesday they had not had any contact with Shaw, but they did take a burglary report Aug. 23 in which the victim named Shaw as her boyfriend.

    "He is not listed as a suspect, and police had no contact with him," LAPD Officer Sara Faden told NBC4. "His name is just listed in the body of a police report."

    Officers responded to the call about 11 p.m., Faden said. While officers were speaking with people outside, a resident returned and spoke to police.

    They asked her about her roommates and "people in her life," and she mentioned Shaw as her boyfriend, Faden said.

    Andrew Blankstein and Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.