LOS ANGELES — Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian says the school is investigating defensive back Josh Shaw’s story that he injured both of his ankles jumping off a balcony to save his nephew from drowning.
Sarkisian said USC has received calls contradicting Shaw’s detailed claims about his two high ankle sprains. Shaw’s story was told in a detailed post on the Trojans’ website Monday hailing the fifth-year senior’s heroism.
“We’re looking at it,” Sarkisian said after practice Tuesday. “Josh is adamant with what occurred, and we’ll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk or across our phones, and see where we can go from there.”
Sarkisian said he had “no history to not believe Josh and his story.” The first-year USC coach declined to discuss the discrepancies in detail, or the identity of the callers who contradicted the story. Shaw wasn’t made available to reporters, and he didn’t immediately return a phone message Tuesday.
Shaw apparently told the school he was at a family party in Palmdale, California, when he saw his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, struggling in a pool. According to the website post, Shaw jumped from a second-story balcony onto concrete before dragging himself into the pool and rescuing his nephew, who doesn’t know how to swim.
Although Shaw’s injuries aren’t expected to keep him out for the season, Sarkisian still wants to know exactly how they happened.
“I think it’s important to know your players,” Sarkisian said. “Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us. He’s given me no reason not to believe what he has told us that occurred, but we do need to know. I think it’s important to know in the direction we’re headed.”
Lt. Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday afternoon that a man named Joshua Shaw was mentioned — but not as a suspect — in a report involving a Saturday night break-in at a downtown apartment building.
“There is a mention of a Joshua Shaw in this report but not in terms of him being a suspect,” Neiman said.
“To make any link at this point would be premature,” he said.
Neiman said officers answering a report of a woman screaming in the apartment complex interviewed a woman inside and several witnesses. The woman told officers that someone had pried open a window, entered the apartment and fled but that nothing was taken, he said.
Other details were not immediately released.
Shaw is a team captain and a starter in the Trojans’ secondary and is widely regarded as a solid teammate. The Florida transfer is a key component of USC’s defensive secondary, considered one of the nation’s best groups.
Shaw had four interceptions while starting 14 games last season, his second with the Trojans. He has played both safety and cornerback, moving around a defense with little depth due to NCAA sanctions.