On Saturday, USC finished meeting with the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee about USC’s appeal of the NCAA sanctions handed to the football program last June. The Trojans want the NCAA to reduce its two-year bowl ban to one year. USC is also hoping the NCAA will only reduce their scholarships by five in each of the next 3 years instead of the scheduled 10. USC can only hope the over 4 hour meeting will prove successful.
At the meeting were President C.L. Max Nikias, athletic director Pat Haden, Vice President for Athletic Compliance David Roberts, USC’s lawyers, and the 5 member NCAA Commitee. A ruling will not be released for 4 to 6 weeks. Until then the Trojans can do nothing but wait and hope the NCAA rules favorably.
The penalties were imposed on USC by the NCAA on June 10 after ruling football player and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits. USC was also cited for lack of institutional control. Following the rulings Bush has given back his 2005 Heisman Trophy, choosing to return it before it was stripped away. Bush was ruled ineligible for the 2005 season after the NCAA determined that he and his family had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from two California marketing reps while he was at USC. A replica of Bush’s Heisman has also been returned by USC. One of the two significant regulations on selection process for Heisman Trophy voters is that a player must be compliant with NCAA eligibility rules. In the 75 years of the Heisman, no trophy has ever been returned, revoked, nor have officials ever seriously considered revoking one.
The NCAA sanctions are not the only problems USC is facing. Both the football and basketball programs have taken further hits through football coach Pete Carroll and basketball coach Tim Floyd both leaving the school. One can only wonder how Pete Carroll ended up unscathed in the midst of the USC drama, but instead was able to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Wildcard playoff victory as their new head coach. While Carroll’s time as head football coach as USC has now allowed him to coach in the NFL, the program he ran from is left rebuilding in his wake.
USC is not appealing all of the penalties put on the school by the NCAA. While calling the penalties “excessive,” the Trojans are not appealing the four years of probation given to them, the 14 wins they had to vacate, or the banishing of Reggie Bush from the program. Hopefully recent NCAA rulings involving allowing Auburn player Cam Newton to continue playing despite the NCAA ruling that his father had asked Mississippi State for cash will help USC in the appeals process.
For the Trojans’ sake, the NCAA decision regarding scholarship reductions better come sooner rather than later. The football signing period runs from February 2nd until April 1st, and if the NCAA decision is not final by that time the appeals committee could delay the 3-year penalty, causing it to affect the program until 2014 instead of until 2013 if it goes into effect this year.
USC is stuck in a waiting game until the NCAA Infraction Appeals Committee makes a decision. Unfortunately, it is the student athletes who end up getting hurt the most in a case like this. Athletes who did nothing wrong are being punished for those who received improper benefits, an unwarranted side effect of the NCAA sanctions against the school. While the school’s football program rebuilds, hopefully those who would consider taking money from agents and the like will be deterred based on the NCAA’s investigations and penalties assessed to both the school and the players found to be involved.