NCAA hits USC with two-year bowl ban, scholarship cuts
Southern California is ineligible to play in the postseason for the next two football seasons after the NCAA ruled Reggie Bush received extra benefits while playing for the Trojans.
FINDINGS AND PENALTIES
Highlights of the findings and sanctions the NCAA issued Thursday against Southern California:
Found violations that included a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.
Placed the athletic program on four years' probation.
Banned the football team from the postseason for 2010 and '11.
Vacated 14 wins in football from the Dec. 4, 2004, UCLA game through the entire 2005 season.
Cut 10 football scholarships each for 2011-12, '12-13 and '13-14. The team can give no more than 15 new scholarships each of those years and has 75 players total on scholarship in each of those years.
Ordered USC to have no association with the players at the heart of the football and men's basketball violations, Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. The athletic department cannot accept money or recruiting help from them, nor can they be accorded special benefits.
Ordered USC to ban all non-school personnel, including boosters, from team charters, practices, locker rooms and sidelines. The ban extends to camps for football and men's basketball.
The above are in addition to sanctions the school self-imposed in January on men's basketball:
Postseason ban in 2010.
Vacating 21 wins for the 2007-08 season.
Trimming one scholarship each for the 2009-10 and '10-11 academic years. This leaves the team with 12 scholarships each year.
Returning $206,200 the school got for its participation in the 2008 NCAA tournament.
Cutting 20 days (from 130 to 110) the staff is allowed to spend recruiting in 2010-11.
Jack Carey, USA TODAY
The NCAA Committee on Infractions' long delay in announcing its decision in the investigation of the Southern California football and men's basketball programs did not signal a case of cold feet on the part of the committee members.
The NCAA revealed its findings Thursday after a four-year probe, and the Trojans' football program had a virtual hammer dropped on it, receiving a two-year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships of 10 a year over the next three years, potentially crippling a team that had a run of dominance in the last decade rarely matched in college football.
USC also received four years' probation, was cited for a lack of institutional control and must vacate the victories it accrued with Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush starting in December 2004. The school also stands to have its 2004 Bowl Championship Series title vacated.
The school announced in a statement that it would accept some of the penalties imposed by the committee but planned to appeal those it thought were excessive. It did not specify which sanctions it planned to appeal.
"We acknowledge that violations occurred, and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report," Todd Dickey, USC's senior vice president for administration, said in the statement.
The NCAA took no further action against the men's basketball team. The school banned it from postseason play last season and vacated its wins from 2007-08 because of violations involving O.J. Mayo, who played only that season for the Trojans.
The women's tennis team also was cited in the report for unauthorized phone calls made by a former player, but the NCAA accepted USC's earlier vacation of its wins between November 2006 and May 2009.
Allegations surfaced in 2006
But the storm clouds surrounding the football program since reports in 2006 alleged that Bush and his family received hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit benefits from sports marketers Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels resulted in sanctions that greet coach Lane Kiffin and his staff.
Kiffin, an assistant coach at USC when Bush played there, was hired as head coach after last season, when Pete Carroll left to coach the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
Neither Carroll nor former Trojans basketball coach Tim Floyd was sanctioned by the NCAA. However, the report rebuked "an assistant football coach," known to be running backs coach Todd McNair, handing him a one-year show-cause penalty and prohibiting him from recruiting.
The NCAA did not find credible McNair's professed ignorance of Bush's dealings with Lake and Michaels. The pair sued Bush in bids to recover almost $300,000 in cash and gifts they said Bush and his family accepted during his USC career. They were attempting to sign Bush as their marketing company's first client.
Carroll, in a video posted on YouTube, said he supported the school's appeal and maintained, "In all aspects of the program, we were vigilant.
"I'm absolutely shocked and disappointed at the findings of the NCAA. I never, ever thought it would come to this. … I never thought there (were) any facts that supported these significant sanctions. … The university didn't know … We were not aware of any of these findings.
"The agenda of the NCAA infractions committee took them beyond the facts. The facts don't match these sanctions. This is a clear-cut case of external elements outside the university setting entering in and disrupting the process. It's time for the NCAA and the universities to come together to elevate the awareness and the understanding of the vulnerability of college athletes and their families."
Bush disagrees with findings
Vacating the victories means the Trojans no longer are recognized as the winners of the 2005 Orange Bowl, in which they dominated Oklahoma for the Bowl Championship Series title. They also vacate every win during the 2005 season, which ended with a loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl with another BCS title on the line.
However, the BCS has not yet vacated the national championship won in that Orange Bowl game.
"As a procedural matter, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee (POC) must meet to formally consider vacating USC's championship title and the game records," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. "If the POC takes such action, there would be no BCS champion for the 2004-05 season. The POC will meet shortly to discuss this matter.
"No action will go into effect until the appeal is heard and decided by the NCAA."
Absent a successful appeal, the BCS presidents will vacate the title, a person close to the BCS process, who did not want to be identified because the issue is not closed, told USA TODAY.
The Trojans, however, will retain their 2004 Associated Press title, awarded separately from the BCS crown in a poll after the bowls.
"The 2004 poll stands," AP sports editor Terry Taylor said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. "The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they're allowed to be ranked."
Bush could lose his 2005 Heisman. "(We) will issue a statement at the appropriate time," said Tim Henning, Heisman coordinator.
Bush, now a running back with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, said in a statement: "I have a great love for the University of Southern California, and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC but for the fans and players. I am disappointed by (Thursday's) decision and disagree with the NCAA's findings."
It is left to Kiffin and the current players to pick up the pieces. Kiffin said Thursday that he was not concerned about losing recruits.
"I don't think it's going to have an impact on our recruiting," he said. "We've talked to a lot of people from our team, to our signees, to recruits, and we have not felt an impact at all, because USC is still USC. We're still going to play an extremely high level of football. You can still get a great education if you come to USC.
"We think we have a great class coming in, it's been referred to as No. 1 in the country. … We're excited to add those guys to our team and stay with the goal we always talk to our players about, and that's to win every game that we play."
Linebacker Kevin Greene, a sophomore in the fall, called the developments "a shock."
"We weren't here," he continued. "We don't know what went on the years before we were here. Whatever happened before I signed my scholarship happened. I don't know what, I don't know who. All I can do is go by what I hear."
Quarterback Matt Barkley, a sophomore to be, said it would be his responsibility to lead the team.
"We know there's a possibility we won't play in a bowl game, but at the same time I came here for a degree from one of the best universities in the country and to win football games," he said. "If we play 13 instead of 14, we'll try to win all 13 of them."
In the last 15 years, Miami (Fla.) and Alabama received similar sanctions. Both programs rebounded to win national championships.
Infractions committee chairman Paul Dee said schools must carefully watch their marquee players. They're the ones who attract attention from agents and their runners.
"Your staff needs to monitor those players at a higher level," said Dee, a lecturer of law and education at Miami (Fla.), and formerly athletics director there. "High-profile players require high-profile (compliance)."
Under Carroll, USC was known for a lenient admission policy at practices. But the NCAA ruling prohibits all non-university personnel, except news media and a few others, from attending practices and camps and from standing on the sideline during games.
Floyd resigned after the allegations against Mayo surfaced and now coaches at Texas-El Paso. Mayo plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
"We are pleased at the outcome but certainly not surprised," Floyd's lawyer, Jim Darnell, said of Floyd's exoneration. "The committee did its work and reached the right conclusion."
•Contributing: Robyn Norwood in Los Angeles; wire reports