USC Sanctions Unfair
by Paul Grossinger
Biblical Judgment: The Harsh Example of USC
The harshness of the NCAA's punishment of Reggie Bush and USC was further illustrated when compared to what they did in the Cam Newton Controversy.
This week, the NCAA announced the conclusion of its investigation into widespread violations throughout USC athletics. The full breadth and scope of its punishment was breathtakingly severe: a crippling two year postseason ban, a reduction of ten scholarships per year through 2013, and the vacation of wins (and quite possibly a national championship) from Reggie Bush’s Heisman-winning season. Though the school is likely to appeal, the announcement comes with the full support of the NCAA and the BCS football system, so, in other words, any appeal is likely to go nowhere.
The NCAA, college athletics’ governing body, stated in its report that it had found, “a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, and the exceeding coach staff limits,” across USC athletics but most of the violations and poor conduct stemmed from, “unethical conduct by an assistant football coach and agent and amateurism issues for a former football student-athlete.” Put more simply, it means that USC was guilty of routine violations (of the inducements and staff limits kind found regularly at top schools) and of mishandling the recruitment of former star running back Reggie Bush.
Therefore, while it is clear (I would even say abundantly clear) that USC violated the NCAA’s rules, the punishment does not necessarily fit the crime. Lets break it down: there were three major components to USC’s punishment; forfeiture of wins, the bowl ban, and a scholarships reduction. Of these, only the first component is indisputably justified. Though the 2005 title squad was undeniably talented across the board, Reggie Bush was the team’s headliner so, if he was both recruited improperly and playing ineligibly, then the team’s title and the wins it took to get it must be forfeited. That, I would say, is perfectly fair: violations are violations and USC must be punished like anyone else.
However, beyond the wins component, the harshness of USC’s punishment is both excessive and downright wrong. It is excessive because, though there were clear program violations, they occurred in 2005 and involved one particular star player. Knowing that, how is it logical to
punish an entirely new crop of 2010-2012 kids by preventing them from playing in a bowl game? These kids (and you can’t sell me on the idea that you are punishing the program and not the kids) were hardly responsible for the violations. Those individuals that were-Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, and an un-named assistant-are all long gone. So, essentially, the NCAA is trying to “bring the hammer down” and flex its muscles by severely punishing a group of athletes and coaches a half decade removed from the scene of the crime? Once you look at it that way, it seems either excessive or ridiculous….or both.
Moreover, it is also undeniably cruel. While it is certainly harsh to deprive innocent athletes of the opportunity to play in a bowl game for half (at a minimum) of the collegiate careers, that punishment falls more in the realm of “excessive” than “downright wrong.” What is wrong is that the third component of the NCAA’s punishment denies kids the opportunity to go to college. Essentially, by reducing USC’s scholarship allotment by ten, the NCAA deprived ten kids the right to play college football and , in many cases, the chance for a brighter future. While USC’s own potential recruits (the cut ten) will of course find homes at lesser schools, the trickle-down effect of this policy will ultimately deny ten individuals the opportunity to play college football. That, I think, is simply wrong and, moreover, does absolutely nothing to punish the true violators in this case.
So, in the end, what are we left with? Reggie Bush is in New Orleans counting his millions and fidgeting with his new Superbowl ring. Pete Carroll jumped ship and is now sitting happily in the Seahawks mini-camp teaching new left tackle Russell Okung how to protect an NFL blindside. The unnamed assistant is somewhere; perhaps not on the Bush-Carroll showboat train but certainly not receiving the punishment he deserves. Instead, a whole team of blameless athletes is left deep in the muck; denied the chance at a bowl game. And beyond them, ten more blameless athletes; nameless and faceless, are left without a college and an opportunity.
You can’t tell me that’s right.
Will all this affect USC's status as possibly the best all time college football program