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?

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Jun 18, 2010
Unfair that Guilty USC Parties Go Unpunished
by: Mo Johnson

Nice article Paul. I think USC deserved it's punishment. BUT, I agree with you that there's something wrong with the whole sanctions regime when the people who committed the crimes don't do the time. All the people involved -- Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, etc -- are long gone and living large. It's mostly new, innocent people who now pay the price.

That's not right. You're right about that.

Jun 18, 2010
Response to USCw Penalties
by: JUMP

I categorically disagree with your sense of what is right here. Also, I think you're slanted view on the NCAA "Flexing its muscles" kinda tips your hand a little as well.

USC of today, did not commit the infractions, however, if the only thing you're going to condone is erasing a few record books, or adding astericks, then that amounts to tolerance!

What is the motivation to stop what's worked?...or to care enUFf to see that it never happens again?...Nothing.

You think ANYONE is going to discount the Title USC won?....No,...Like Pete Rose NOT being a HOF'er. He's a HOFer, who cheated! USC is a champion, who cheated!

Sure, it's not apples to apples....the fact that Pete Rose bet on Baseball games did not discount his accomplishments....That Reggie Bush got a Beach Front palace to live it doesn't mean they weren't the best team that year!...

So, the only thing LEFT to "take away" or allow to serve as punishment is schollys and a TV ban. Nothing hits harder than a ban and scholly reduction. You think SMU liked what they got?
No, the NCAA did what they had to do....

USC was blatant and nearly boastful in their ways. OJ Mayo TOLD people he was getting paid! USC was banking on their popularity, TV market, and big $$ to keep them floating along.
They deserve everything they got, and ALL your recruits coming in KNEW the issues.

Seantrell Henderson knew so much he waited to sign,...then believed the continuing standard issue lies that they were going to get off scot free!....Because they were/are so arrogant they assumed they would! The brazen cr*p fest that has been their collective responses to the penalties is more proof that they deserved to be "hammered"!
Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush WILL indeed never pay a REAL penalty...but of course, that's why Pete left when he did!

USC is very deserving of this penalty!...The kids and fans pay for the sins of the School....sad, but there has to be a deterrent!

Jun 18, 2010
Trojan Penalty
by: TrojanHorse4

"Dont do the crime, if you cant do the time." The new recruits knew the score before they signed; USC was being investigated for 4 YEARS! Dont hide behind them!! If they were "victims" of MORE USC lies, then point the finger at Lame Kiffin; NOT the NCAA!

Seniors and Juniors are free to transfer!

USC got what they earned, and Reggie Bush is the bad guy here, not the NCAA. There are a LOT of people who do not like "rules", or think the rules don't aply to them; but they do. When it's time to pay the Ferryman, its time to pay the Ferryman!

Man up Trojans, take your medicine, then do what you can to see that Pete Carrol and Reggie Bush are properly remembered in your history!

Jul 25, 2010
Want pac 10 sec non confrence battle

While as a pac 10 fan I admit that the sec is a small notch above the pac on the feild since expansion. But what the stats don't show is getting an sec team to travel out west and risk their season in early non-confrence games is as rare as an eclipse. Only recently have I seen it done. Smart, but not telling. On the west coast every team hits the road for early season tough matches.

Nov 30, 2010
Kudos to USC players
by: GerryM5 Perectionist Audio Systems

I have to praise those USC players who didn't transfer and played this whole season under very tough sanctions. This USC team may have accomplished more than past National Title Winners. Down to something near 40 scholarship players, unheard in SEC, these players have already have a 7-5 season with a chance to make it 8-5. Compared to most SEC teams that schedule 4 cupcakes per season. These USC guys played a regular season and still are ranked around 30th in country, quite an achievement. Go team!

Nov 18, 2011
Oh Boy
by: Anonymous

I never do this but under the current world i must throw peoples comments back in their face.
"Mayo was telling people he got paid"? Really the NCAA was there for a long time and they never mentioned that. If you have your heads in the sand about the facts of this case i recommend you stop commenting on the case. Should have known? Do people understand this? What about Paul Dee handing out penalties he saw at his first scandal at Miami. I will sum things up as easy as i can. The NCAA is a criminal Organization. On the NCAA report this is the easiest thing for people to find out themselves. USC had an extra coach for 19 days. The NCAA lied and said a year? And that is the whole NCAA report. People are guilty but not as guilty as people want them to be.

Nov 19, 2011
usc sanctions unfair
by: Anonymous

it's about time the ncaa did something right!

several years ago the alabama coach moved a good running back to safety, where he also played pretty good. however i dont remember him being drafted by the nfl. more years passed, the head coaching job changed, the team members changed the that player accused the university of violations, about the time a wealthy auburn alumnus paid the player $50K. none of that had any effect on the ncaa and they tried to destroy the alabama program. one thing that made it so unfair was that none of the coaches or players that suffered were part of the program when the alleged violation occurred.

Apr 11, 2012
by: Joe Kiley

You admit that USC committed violations while recruiting Reggie Bush, and that is the basis for your justification of your whole argument. However, there is no evidence of these violations. The only evidence which the NCAA used was a 14 second outgoing phone call to the supposed agent who was buddy buddy with Reggie Bush's STEP-FATHER. However, it was later discovered that the phone call was incoming, and the NCAA refused to let USC sit in on any of the questioning of Todd McNair or anybody else involved, which violates due process. However, I digress. Bottom line, there is NO EVIDENCE that USC cheated at all. None. Zip. Nil. USC DID NOT CHEAT with regards to Reggie Bush. It is as simple as that.

Oct 09, 2013
usc sactions not fair with other schools
by: steve

The sanctions were 5 years to late. They did not deserve what they got. But now seeing that penn state had gathered reduced and Ohio state only got 1year and cam Newton got nothing and we are now seeing that the sec is paying players as we are all finding out. Now everyone thinks that players should be paid because they are catching the sec. Usc was the power of college football in the mid 2000s and I believe the networks did not like it so the ncaa hit usc hard. Now that it's happening in the sec everyone is ok with it. The ncaa and the networks have lost all there integrity over this issue. Stand up and penalized the team's down south that are paying there recruits. People who do not see this are blind. It go,s all the way back to Robert old and also Marcus Dupree. Wake up everyone. They let them get away with this , they will get away with anything

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