USC cuts ties with booster over controversial tweets

ByKyle Bonagura ESPN logo
Monday, June 1, 2020

USC has revoked season-ticket and Trojan Athletic Fund membership privileges from a self-described football booster who posted a series of tweets calling for protesters to be shot.

"Last night we were made aware of abhorrent and blatantly racist tweets from an individual who identified as a USC Football Booster," USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. "Following an immediate investigation into the matter, we informed the individual that their season ticket and Trojan Athletic Fund membership privileges have been revoked and their payments will be promptly returned. Their account has been flagged in our system to prevent future purchases."

Marla Brown, who previously worked as a Los Angeles Police Department union attorney, posted the tweets on Sunday as protests spread across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin was fired last week and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Brown's profile picture on her Twitter account, which has been deactivated, showed her with former USC receiver Michael Pittman, who was drafted in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts in April. After Brown's tweets were brought to his attention, Pittman asked her to remove the photo.

"If you truly believe the things you have said, I politely ask you to take me out of your profile picture," he wrote on Twitter. "This is disappointing, I know my true Trojan family would never. In times like this, it is important for us to stand together."

When asked to clarify her role as a USC football booster, Brown told ESPN on Sunday night, "I'm not really so close to the program. I think in terms of NCAA recruiting issues we are considered boosters because we can't communicate with players, etc. So that's where that comes from. I don't engage with players or help recruit them. I have met several at events the school hosts."

The Trojan Athletic Fund provides financial support to the USC athletic department and relies on annual contributions from members, with donor levels starting at $200 a year and going as high as $50,000. USC declined to provide what level of donor Brown was.

"Thank you to the USC community for helping us identify this individual so that we could move swiftly to terminate our relationship," Bohn said. "We stand in solidarity with the black community."