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It's been two years since former USC Trojans running back Reggie Bush was stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy due to NCAA sanctions, but while his title was vacated, he made sure to hang on to the physical trophy. But apparently, Bush later had a change of heart and decided to return it to the Heisman Trust, a decision he confirmed during a radio interview on Wednesday.
Bush broke the news on "The Dan Patrick Show," and the trophy's return was later confirmed by ESPN Los Angeles, which quoted a Heisman Trust spokesman as saying Bush "returned the trophy 'some time' ago." The location of Bush's Heisman had been a matter of some speculation since his title was stripped, and Bush had remained mum on the matter. He spilled the beans during Wednesday's interview with Patrick, letting the world know that he no longer has it in his possession.
The return was an interesting move by Bush because the trust never asked for it back, nor were they actively trying to reclaim it. USC returned its copy of the trophy after the NCAA levied its sanctions in June 2010 and asked the university to disassociate itself from Bush.
For more on the USC Trojans, make sure to check out Conquest Chronicles. For more on the Pac-12, head over to Pacific Takes, and for everything college football, make your way over to SB Nation's college football hub.
Three months after the NCAA denies the USC Trojans' appeal of their penalties for the Reggie Bush affair and basketball misdeeds, school officials are crying uncle. USC president Max Nikias said Wednesday that the school was giving up any further efforts to fight the penalties.
"I have determined that the university's mission is best served by moving forward at this time, without pursuing further redress," Nikias said in a statement. "This decision followed an extensive review of all of our options and after consultation with many sources."
It's not entirely clear what other "options" USC had, given that the NCAA (again) had already denied their appeal. Of course, there's the question of how the NCAA is going to make all this appear fair in the eyes of even non-USC football fans when they punish Miami, short of shooting the Shalalabird out of the sky.
But we can now officially put the USC investigation story to bed. The effects will linger, but the fight is over.
The centuries-long NCAA investigation into extra football and basketball benefits at USC will shortly commence gathering dust in the archives. The appeal is denied; sanctions are begun. The drunken brontosaurus that drives the Committee on Infractions' wheel of industry is churning dutifully away at Ohio State, and North Carolina, and Tennessee, and who knows where else. If any parties remain unconvinced "cheating" runs rampant in college athletics, to the point that "cheating" isn't even the right word for what's going on, they are beyond your help or mine.
At this point, we feel like we've heard it all. And yet: Lonnie White's tale of pay-for-play as a Trojan nearly thirty years ago is a compelling read. This one's a page turner in large part because, after the investigations are sealed and coaches clam up, at-large fans of the game aren't privy to the mechanics of how, exactly, the money changes hands. It's not as complicated as you might think:
Imagine an empty lot with a young college football player sitting alone in a parked car late at night. After a few quiet minutes, a luxury sedan arrives and headlights flash.
That’s the sign for the athlete to move. He starts an uneasy conversation with the driver but that chat does not last long before the two exchange bags and part.
Read the rest at The Daily.
When it was revealed last year that Reggie Bush would be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy, the running back revealed in a statement that he would be returning the trophy. According to an unnamed source on the Dan Patrick show, the Downtown Athletic Club in New York has never received it. So, then, where is the trophy?
It used to be on display at a place called the San Diego Hall of Champions, but that is no longer the case. Whether or not that means the institution is not in possession of the trophy is still disputed. That same Dan Patrick Show had a report on Tuesday that the trophy was at the hall until last year, when Bush's father removed it. A spokesman from the San Diego Hall of Champions denies that. Ay dios mio.
Is anyone else picturing Reggie Bush stroking the trophy in his living room, going "My preeeeecious?" Oh, just me? Okay then.
Farewell to a certain crystal football in Heritage Hall: Following the denial of USC's appeal of the NCAA ruling in the SC football program's illegal benefits case, the BCS has taken an unprecedented strike against a sanctioned team and moved to formally strip the Trojans of their 2004 college football national championship title. The game itself, a 55-19 shellacking of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, was vacated last June. BCS executive director Bill Hancock's statement is excerpted below:
The BCS arrangement crowns a national champion, and the BCS games are showcase events for post-season football. One of the best ways of ensuring that they remain so is for us to foster full compliance with NCAA rules. Accordingly, in keeping with the NCAA's recent action, USC's appearances are being vacated.
This action reflects the scope of the BCS arrangement and is consistent with the NCAA's approach when it subsequently discovers infractions by institutions whose teams have played in NCAA championship events.
Apart from the asterisk in the history books, not much else will change: The Pac-10 keeps its title run money; the players keep their rings, and before you get too excited, Auburn and Oklahoma, know that a new '04 champion will not be crowned. That's really all for the best; I imagine Sooner and Tiger fans can find more recent BCS-related events to hang their prideful hats on.
In the last week of May, we wearily celebrated the end of the five-year USC illegal benefits case; as it turns out, that flash of joy may have come a touch too soon: Todd McNair, ex-running backs coach and special-teams helmer who was ousted in the course of the investigation, will not be taking that high road so prized by the new USC administration. McNair has filed suit against the NCAA, seeking "unspecified damages for libel, slander, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious interference with contractual relations, breach of contract, negligence and declaratory relief." The Association slapped him with a show-cause penalty last June, and denied his appeal of the ruling in April.
Our USC blog, Conquest Chronicles, has helpfully pointed out the public availability of the court documents, filed in L.A. County superior court. If you're a fan of institutionalized slap-fighting, we invite you to hang around this story for just a little while longer.
As reported last night, the NCAA has ruled earlier than expected on USC's appeal to the Committee on Infractions' ruling against the university, denying the Trojans on all points of plea. The levied penalties against the Trojans football program, including four years of probation, two years of postseason play exclusion, vacated wins, scholarship reductions, and fines, will all stand. The Trojans have already served one year of their bowl ban; scholarship sanctions will begin in the 2012-2013 academic year. The NCAA's official release has a complete explanation of all penalties upheld, and also contains a stiff rebuttal to the university's earlier charges of abuses of power on the part of the COI:
In its appeal, the university requested the penalties be reduced, asserting they were not supported by the facts and were excessive to an extent that they constituted an abuse of discretion. It also contended that the findings of violations should be set aside as contrary to the evidence. [...] The appeals committee also upheld all penalties in the case, noting there was no basis to conclude the Committee on Infractions departed from prior decisions.
CBS' Bryan Fischer has a copy of USC's statement in response to the appeal, which comes with all expected vitriol:
We respectfully, but vehemently, disagree with the findings of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee. Our position was that the Committee on Infractions abused its discretion and imposed penalties last June that were excessive and inconsistent with established case precedent.
Some fun/depressing tidbits on this case, via the NCAA's official compliance blogger: By the time the Trojans are off probation, they'll have freshmen suited up who were in the third grade when the investigation began. As of today's wrap, this has been a live case for five years, one month, and just shy of one week. It's easily felt twice that long, hasn't it?
Catch up and commiserate with USC fans at SB Nation's Conquest Chronicles.
The USC Trojans appeal of the NCAA's sanctions against the program -- yes, this appeal has been under review for a very long time now -- will be unveiled as having been denied, according to Rivals' USCFootball.com. Trojans officials are reportedly reviewing the NCAA's ruling, which is expected to be announced Thursday.
Everything from scholarship limits to bowl bans to free transfers for current USC players would remain in effect if the current sanctions remain in place. Players affected by the 2010 season's bowl ban would be allowed to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year, as is custom.
There's nothing more USC can do once the results of this appeal are made known. Well, there's nothing more they can do either way, as this appeal was their last shot at avoiding severe punishments and was filed months ago.
Todd McNair, former USC running backs coach and central figure in the NCAA's investigation of illegal benefits in the Trojan football program, has largely been forgotten in the months that have elapsed since the university declined to renew his contract. With all the storied programs that have fallen under the Committee on Infractions' scrutiny since, it's understandable to have forgotten the USC investigation entirely, but pieces are still moving, albeit small ones: Recall that the investigation formally wrapped in January; the COI's report was released and sanctions levied in June, and that the appeals process got underway just days later.
Apart from the restrictions placed upon the football program, McNair himself was slapped with the dreaded show-cause order, and according to a news release from the NCAA this morning, his appeal has been denied. And if you have been following this case with a modicum of interest, it will not at all shock you to learn that McNair's attorney is adopting the hallowed HATERZ defense, first popularized in this case by former Trojans AD Mike Garrett.
"Mr. McNair is disappointed in the decision, but he's not surprised," his attorney, Scott Tompsett, said in a statement. "After all, the NCAA publicly endorsed the Infractions Committee's decision last June before we had even filed the notice of appeal. And NCAA President Mark Emmert said last December — while the Infractions Appeals Committee was still deliberating the appeal — that he believed the Infractions Committee got the USC case right. So, [Friday's] decision simply confirms what the NCAA leadership had already decreed publicly." [...] He also said the infractions committee "mischaracterized and manipulated key testimony" and that McNair was "considering legal action to remedy the injustice he has suffered."
USC's appeal, of course, continues. You my reliably assume that this will never, ever be over. After four years and counting, what's more waiting?
Heisman Trophy Trust president Bill Dockery announced Wednesday on ESPN's College Football Live that the 2005 trophy will have no official winner. With Reggie Bush forfeiting the award (possibly in anticipation of having it stripped anyway), speculation had been rampant and enthusiastic concerning its possible passing to 2005 runner-up Vince Young. Instead, the date will remain blank in infamy:
Since the issuance of the NCAA decision vacating USC's 2005 season and declaring Reggie Bush an ineligible athlete, the Trustees have met, discussed and reviewed all information underlying this decision in an effort to exercise the due diligence and due process required of any decision regarding the awarding of the 2005 Heisman Trophy.
As a result of Reggie Bush's decision to forfeit his title as Heisman winner of 2005, the Trustees have determined that there will be no Heisman Trophy winner for the year 2005."
Re-gifting is the height of tackiness, but much like the vacated 2004 USC title not being awarded to legions of foaming Auburn fans, this is a decision that will please absolutely no one, save Vince Young's mom.
Visit SB Nation's Burnt Orange Nation and Conquest Chronicles for Texas and USC fan reactions.
On Tuesday afternoon, former USC running back Reggie Bush announced that he will voluntarily forfeit his status as the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner. Here is Bush's statement:
One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005. For me, it was a dream come true.
But I know that the Heisman is not mine alone. Far from it. I know that my victory was made possible by the discipline and hard work of my teammates, the steady guidance of my coaches, the inspiration of the fans, and the unconditional love of my family and friends. And I know that any young man fortunate enough to win the Heisman enters into a family of sorts. Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name.
It is for these reasons that I have made the difficult decision to forfeit my title as Heisman winner of 2005. The persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to my years at USC has been both painful and distracting. In no way should the storm around these allegations reflect in any way on the dignity of this award, nor on any other institutions or individuals. Nor should it distract from outstanding performances and hard-earned achievements either in the past, present or future.
For the rest of my days, I will continue to strive to demonstrate through my actions and words that I was deserving of the confidence placed in me by the Heisman Trophy Trust. I would like to begin in this effort by turning a negative situation into a positive one by working with the Trustees to establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made. I am determined to view this event as an opportunity to help others and to advance the values and mission of the Heisman Trophy Trust.
I will forever appreciate the honor bestowed upon me as a winner of the Heisman. While this decision is heart-breaking, I find solace in knowing that the award was made possible by the support and love of so many. Those are gifts that can never be taken away.
Bush, in summary, says he is giving up the award to preserve its integrity. Though his ceding of the title is voluntary, reports emerged last week that the Heisman trust was prepared to strip Bush of the trophy and associated title, so he ultimately may not have had much choice in the matter.
Bush's remarks on Tuesday, just like his earlier remarks, opened and closed without an explicit apology.
No decision has been announced regarding who, if anyone, will be re-designated as the winner of the 2005 Heisman, although then-Texas quarterback Vince Young, who was runner-up to Bush in the voting, has said he 'wouldn't say no' if he were given the award.
Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Heisman trust will strip Reggie Bush of his Heisman trophy by the end of the month, and leave the 2005 year vacant of no trophy winner. The Heisman trust is being tight lipped on the situation by saying nothing has changed in their decision:
Heisman spokesman Tim Henning told The [LA] Times, "The Heisman Trophy Trust has yet to make a decision, and until such time they do we have no further comment."
Yahoo has been on this story since 2006 and they have been spot on the entire way, so it may just be a matter of time before Reggie Bush's Heisman will be vacated.
Reggie Bush will reportedly become the first player in the 75-year history of the Heisman Trophy to be stripped of the award, according to Yahoo! Sports. The report indicates that the Heisman Trust will make the announcement by the end of the month.
The committee has reportedly concluded that Bush was ineligible during his Heisman-winning season in 2005, after it was determined in June that Bush received cash and other unauthorized gifts during the season.
Earlier on Thursday, the Football Writers Association of America vacated USC's 2004 national championship and asked that the Trojans return the Grantland Rice Trophy that goes along with it. Just a couple of hours later, the university complied, saying it is already in the process of sending it back.
Here's what USC athletic director Pat Haden had to say:
"Due to the NCAA penalties, we understand the actions taken by the Football Writers Association of America, and we will abide by that ruling. While we know that some fans and former student-athletes may be disappointed, our central priority at this time is our overall commitment to compliance, and this action is in line with the standards we have set for our entire athletic program."
On Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the Football Writers Association of America voted to vacate USC's 2004 national championship, and asked that the university return the Grantland Rice Trophy that goes along with the title.
The decision of the FWAA, one of four major recognized championship selectors, stems from sanctions handed out by the NCAA to the Trojans in June for violations made by the school, which included Reggie Bush playing while ineligible. Among the punishments imposed is a two-year postseason ban and the loss of scholarships.
The FWAA has awarded the Grantland Rice Trophy to its national champion since 1954.
USC has appealed the NCAA's ruling, but in the meantime, they will not be included in 2010's Coaches' Poll. The BCS has also already gone on record saying that if the appeal is unsuccessful, then USC will lose its 2004 title.
And we know what you're thinking, Auburn fans, but sorry, no dice: the FWAA will not select a new 2004 champion. Neither Auburn, who finished 13-0, nor Oklahoma (12-1) received a majority of the votes.
"I think it becomes more difficult on the replacement because you're trying to go back and recreate the situation, and it's always hard to do that," [[FWAA Executive Director Steve] Richardson said. "There was some support for Auburn, but it wasn't the majority.
"If you look at it from a situation of, 'OK, Auburn was undefeated at the end of the season,' OK. But you can say what if they played Oklahoma? What if they played USC if that would have happened? I don't know. Are you penalizing Oklahoma? There's all sorts of things there with that."
At the end of a multiyear investigation and the onset of a series of ramifications that will impact the USC football program for years to come, Reggie Bush called his alma mater last week to clear the air -- but athletic director Pat Haden says Bush isn't sorry:
“Never did he say I’m sorry or I apologize,” Haden said. “Never did he say, 'I lied to the NCAA or I took stuff.' ”
If this seems out of character for Bush, consider that this is a prime opportunity for him to cast himself as a wronged party:
As part of the sanctions, USC must disassociate itself from Bush. That means removing all images of the tailback from campus and the Coliseum, and images and records from the football media guide. USC has removed Bush’s retired No. 5 jersey from Heritage Hall and returned its copy of the Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trust.
SBN's Trojans community, as you might imagine, isn't too thrilled with Bush right now:
"When this is all said and done, everybody will see at the end of the day we've done nothing, absolutely nothing wrong," Bush declared back in 2006.
Now, Bush seems to be humming the same tune. Let me guess.
"We've done nothing wrong. We're the victims here."
Sorry Reggie, we're not buying it.
Already faced with a blistering set of NCAA sanctions, USC is staring down the possibility of another school (and national) first: the revocation of their 2004 BCS national title.
"If USC loses the appeal, the  championship will be vacated," Hancock told reporters. "And the feeling is in our group, the commissioners group, is that there was not a game, no game happened."
Hancock added, "They will vacate, they will not elevate anyone," referring to the 12 school presidents who make up the BCS Oversight Committee.
Now, this is normally about the point where I'd start making jokes about Auburn fans busting out the champagne glasses filled with Boone's Farm, but ... wait a second, they might actually get something out of this?
Steve Richardson, executive director of the Football Writers Association of America, said Monday at the Big 12 Conference football preview that the FWAA may take away the 2004 national title it awarded to Southern California and give it to Auburn.
Let this serve as a beacon of hope to angry, fruitless billboard campaigns across the land: Never abandon hope. The appeals committee doesn't even meet again until late September, however, so as ever with this case, we're back to the waiting game. (Although this is where, if you're Tommy Tuberville, you walk into the AD's office in Lubbock and ask for a raise now that you've got an imaginary title ring and all. I hear his new bosses are the friendly sort.)
As USC moves on from the scandal-marred Pete Carroll era, they're completely cleaning house and erasing the past. Indeed, aside from bringing in a new AD, USC will reportedly return Reggie Bush's Heisman trophy to the Heisman trust, according to Bryan Fischer of Rivals.com.
Beyond giving back Bush's hardware, USC will efface all institutional memory of Bush and former hardcourt one-and-doner O.J. Mayo, per the memo from incoming school president C.L. Max Nikias that also introduced new AD Joe Haden. From the memo:
The Trojan family honors and respects the USC sporting careers of those persons whose actions did not compromise their athletic program or the opportunities of future USC student-athletes. Accordingly, I have instructed the senior vice president for administration to remove athletic jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush by mid-August -- before the incoming class of students moves on campus -- from Heritage Hall, the Galen Center and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The university also will return Mr. Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August.
Check out SB Nation's USC blog, Conquest Chronicles for more on Reggie Bush and USC's efforts to clean up the program.
This was sort of inevitable, but just to clear things up, the American Football Coaches Association has announced that USC won't be eligible for the coaches' poll this season. This is thanks to Association bylaws preventing coaches from voting for sanctioned programs, and presumably could extend to the 2011 season if the appeal doesn't go well:
"American Football Coaches Association policy dictates that AFCA members who serve on board of voters to determine national ranking shall not vote on any institution on major probation.
"Penalties imposed by the NCAA, or a representative conference, are classified as 'major' if the penalties include loss of post-season bowl participation and/or television appearances, and/or loss of 20 percent or more of grants in aid.
But Pac-10 BCS hopefuls, fear not: The Trojans' punishment won't affect your strength of schedule numbers -- opponents' rankings aren't taken into account.
For more on what this all means, check out SBN's BCS Evolution.
It seems that the latest refugee from the Bushgate fallout at USC is, ironically enough, heading to Lane Kiffin's old coaching grounds in Knoxville.
We're sure that Tennessee fans will avoid schadenfreude at the expense of the Trojans, despite the fact that Ed Orgeron tried to convince some Vols players to follow the lion's share of the then-Tennessee coaching staff to Los Angeles. Yes, the high road is their certain destination.
In any case, Jackson was a backup in 2009 but was expected to "compete for key playing time" at USC in 2010.
Todd McNair, the shiny would-be villain at the center of the NCAA's investigation into USC athletics, had a contract with the university that expired today. That contract is not being renewed, and after six years coaching running backs and coaxing recruits, McNair is in the wind. And that, it appears, is that:
“Todd McNair’s contract expired on June 30, 2010,” Coach Lane Kiffin said. “We have no additional comment.”
SBN's Conquest Chronicles reacts with palpable relief:
I can't say that any of this is incredibly surprising to begin with. Sources indicate that McNair had not been in Heritage Hall since the NCAA sanctions were handed down in early June, and he had not been made available to the media either. Something was clearly in the works.
Granted, whether the evidence the NCAA used is sufficient or not, it's difficult to argue that the link between McNair and Bush did not place the current coaching staff in an awkward position. In turn, it's easy to understand why he was out of the office for most of June, and now out of a job.
In his latest video message, courtesy of The Orange County Register (via Conquest Chronicles), Pete Carroll has some choice words for one of the unspoken villains the Reggie Bush affair: The NCAA.
They need to extend overtly their efforts to get the word out. …
If you just take a look at the people involved and the issues that happened and the impact on the program and all that, there’s no way that they should have done so much to try and destroy a program.
USC has appealed the NCAA sanctions imposed in the Reggie Bush-improper benefits affair, asking essentially that the most severe punishments be cut in half. The reduction of ten scholarships a year should be five, the university says, and the two-year bowl ban should only apply to one season.
“We disagree with many of the findings in the report from the NCAA Committee on Infractions and assert that the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified and are inconsistent with precedent in similar cases,” said Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration.
It’s no surprise that the Trojans appealed; that was expected. But there are plenty of questions about whether the university will have much success (if any) at getting the penalties scaled back now that the rules for appeals have been toughened.
Clay Travis had former Trojan and Titan LenDale White on his Nashville radio show this week, and got in several pointed questions concerning the ongoing, never-ending sanctions circus at USC -- and he certainly got answers. White is certainly in a position to understand the kind of environment players there were operating in, although given his recent relations with Pete Carroll, you might want to take this very interesting quote with about a deer lick of salt:
Asked what he thought of USC athletic director Mike Garrett's contention that he didn't know of any improprieties at the program, White replied, "I don't want to bad mouth nobody, but as big as this scale is and as much as they (the NCAA) saying somebody took, for you not to know anything is kind of unbelievable to me. I don't know. If you're the athletic director I'm pretty sure you get wind of something, that somebody's put something in your ear. When I was going to school there, and we were partying too much on campus, coaches could show up at our dorm room and tell us to calm the partying down. But you can't tell if somebody took a $750,000 home?
Again, this is from a guy who might very understandably have an axe to grind, but he says what he says, so judge for yourselves. And just in case you haven't gotten enough of this story yet, the discussion continues however long this case does, which is to say, forever and a day, at SBN's Conquest Chronicles.
The sky is falling! USC's football fortunes are an angry icy snowball steadily rolling downhill to form an avalanche the likes of which Trojan faithful have never seen, largely because they live in Southern California! And star players of the disgraced squad are jumping ship left and right!
...well, a player, anyway, one Jarvis Jones, a linebacker who's departing for reasons of medical clearance, but whatever. And he's jumping about as far to the right as he can get, choosing his home-state Georgia Bulldogs for his neck's second act:
Jones, then a freshman linebacker, sprained his neck in the Trojans’ eighth game last season and had to sit out the rest of the year. USC doctors subsequently would not clear Jones for spring practice this year.
McGee said Jones sought a second and third opinion and was told he should be able to continue his career but the Trojans still relented. He finally asked for and was granted a release from USC.
A welcome addition in Athens, to be sure -- when he was healthy, Jones was quite the talent off the line, and saw field action for most of his freshman year. But methinks Georgia fans will be just as content to have him on the sidelines during his mandated sit-out year, a little screw-you talisman to remind them of the brassy whippersnapper of a coach who once hung a cool 45 on the Dawgs at home.
USC still has it’s 2004 BCS National Championship trophy (for now), but the school has been stripped of its 2005 Orange Bowl hardware by the BCS. The ’05 Orange Bowl was a 55-19 thumping of Oklahoma that featured Matt Leinart throwing five touchdown passes, which suddenly seems like a really long time ago.
BCS executive director/Public enemy No. 1 Bill Hancock released a statement:
“In accordance with the findings released today by the NCAA, the University of Southern California’s 2005 Orange Bowl game victory has been vacated. We take the integrity of NCAA rules seriously. As a procedural matter, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee (POC) must meet to formally consider vacating USC’s championship title and the game records. 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.
“In light of USC’s statement that it intends to appeal, we want to make it clear that no action will go into effect until the appeal is heard and decided by the NCAA.”
This news isn’t dampening the spirits of SB Nation’s USC bloggers, who will cherish the memories of a game that their school no longer (technically) won:
As Paragon and I have both stated on multiple occasions, we really don’t care if the BCS or the NCAA wants to strip USC of wins. We all saw the games. We all know what happened. No matter what occurs from here on out, the score will always remain 55-19. That isn’t going to change. I have the DVD of the game at home. It’s still going to show the touchdown passes, the breathtaking runs, and bone-crunching tackles. Granted, it won’t be “official” anymore, but at the end, it’s largely irrelevant.
The NCAA Bylaw 14.8.2 reads, "the Committee on Infractions can recommend a waiver to allow student athletes to transfer and play immediately if the bowl ban is for the rest of their eligibility." And indeed, the NCAA Committee has reportedly granted such a waiver to the USC juniors and seniors, for whom the bowl ban would span the rest of their career. Now, they can transfer to the school of their choosing while avoiding the NCAA's designated one-year on the sideline for transfers.
In other words, aside from losing countless scholarships, bowl opportunities, recruiting leverage, and all sorts of revenue, the USC Trojans could have many of their best players poached by rivals in the ensuing months. They don't call it a "death penalty" for no reason.
Some of the more prominent Trojans that are now free to elsewhere include WR Ronald Johnson, RB Marc Tyler, LB Chris Galippo, and countless others with a 5-star pedigree and a free pass to head to the program of their choice. One guy that won't be leaving? QB Matt Barkley, a starter as a true freshman last year, and widely looked upon as the next great quarterback at Southern Cal. Now, you have to wonder...
Will Matt Barkley have any teammates to throw to?
Mike Garrett had what may be the worst public reaction ever yesterday in addressing the NCAA’s severe sanctions against USC. It’s hard to imagine the functional CEO of an organization doing this, but it’s ESPN and it’s in print, so boggle your eyes and drop your jaw in advance to prevent injury to either body part.
"As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they all were Trojans," Garrett said to cheers Thursday night at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.
Ahh. The “haters” defense. Familiar to all third graders and aspiring rappers. But wait! There’s more:
Wearing a striped cardinal-and-gold-colored tie — and a smile — Garrett had this to say when I approached him before the start of the event: "No comment. Don’t bother me. The world is great."
While walking away with associates, he said, "Don’t talk to that guy. He’s the press."
Later, when asked why he had not spoken publicly about the NCAA report or even issued a video statement, Garrett acted like he did not hear the question. He patted me on the chest and said, "God bless you."
Mike Garrett may be a lousy, lousy athletics director, but he has a future in pro wrestling mike work whenever his gig at USC runs out. And if this continues, he’ll be wearing a singlet and getting bodyslammed very, very shortly.
Former USC and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll posted a YouTube response to the sanctions handed down against the school, which include a two-year bowl ban, a loss of 30 scholarships, a five-year probation and quite possibly the 2004 BCS Title.
"I'm absolutely shocked and disappointed at the findings of the NCAA. I never, ever thought it would come to this. After nine years of working at the university and going through all the challenges and the accomplishments that all the people took part in, I'm extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this right now. After going through the process, from the depositions and the interviews over years and years, and also participating in the hearing for the NCAA, I never thought there was any facts that supported these significant sanctions that have come forth. The primary issue throughout this process was 'did the university know?' The university didn't know; we didn't know. We were not aware of any of these findings."
In a statement released on Thursday, USC’s senior vice president for administration Todd Dickey said that the university plans to accept some portions of the NCAA’s sanctions, but will appeal others. Which parts of the NCAA ruling that USC plans to appeal will not be specified by the university.
“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."
Dickey added, “We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.
A few fun notes from the USC Conference Call the NCAA held to discuss its hefty sanctioning of the USC Athletic Program:
—Paul Dee, the former AD at the University of Miami, answered the same question about three different times by reminding reporters that the NCAA does not, in fact, award a national championship in college football. That is the business of the BCS, and would be left to them. Some people who cover college football for a living do not understand this, and that should make you very sad.
—But in case you didn’t know that: the vacated wins do not forfeit USC’s 2004 BCS Title. That is left to the AP and to the BCS, and neither works with the other in any organized fashion.
—Dee said that the documentation for the case could be piled up in a pile of papers almost a yard high, “or maybe a inch or two shy of it.” Whether he was making a sly reference to USC coming up an inch or two short on a crucial 4th down in the 2006 Rose Bowl or not, but if so? You’re a sly man, Mr. Dee.
—Dee said USC came very close to getting a television ban, particularly because of the high profile nature of the program.
—The most salient point brought up by Dee in regards to the severity of the punishment was this quote: “High profile athletes require a high level of monitoring,” something he said USC was woefully inattentive to in the case of Student 1 (Reggie Bush) and “Student 2” (O.J. Mayo.) Because they are most susceptible to receiving illegal benefits, they deserve special attention when it comes to monitoring. If you’re looking for a rule the NCAA will cite again in future investigations, this is it.
—USC will appeal the decision. Dee said in the call that an appeal would postpone all of the penalties, but if no change is made that they would simply be pushed back on the calendar until the appeal is completed.
The NCAA has released a statement, which provides the Cliff’s Notes version of their 67-page report on USC’s violations. What folllows is the full list of both self-imposed and NCAA mandated sanctions against USC:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Four years of probation from June 10, 2010, through June 9, 2014. The public report further details the conditions of this probation.
• Postseason ban for the 2009-10 men’s basketball season (self-imposed by the university).
• Postseason ban for the 2010 and 2011 football seasons.
• One-year show-cause penalty for the assistant football coach (June 10, 2010, to June 9, 2011). The public report further details the conditions of this penalty.
• Vacation of all wins in which the former football student-athlete competed while ineligible, beginning in December 2004. This vacation includes participation in any postseason competition, including football bowl games.
• Vacation of all wins in which the former men’s basketball student-athlete competed during the 2007-08 regular season (self-imposed by the university). The committee also stated this vacation must include participation in any post-season competition, conference tournaments and NCAA championships.
• Vacation of all wins in which the former women’s tennis student-athlete competed while ineligible between November 2006 and May 2009 (self-imposed by the university). The committee also stated this vacation must include participation in any post-season competition, conference tournaments and NCAA championships.
• Reduction of football athletics scholarships to 15 initial grants and 75 total grants for each of the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. This represents a decrease of 10 scholarships for each of the three seasons.
• Reduction of men’s basketball athletics scholarships from 13 to 12 for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
• Reduction of the total number of recruiting days in men’s basketball by 20 days (from 130 to 110) for the 2010-11 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
• A $5,000 financial penalty (self-imposed by the university).
• Remittance of the $206,200 the university received for its participation in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament (self-imposed by the university). In addition, the committee noted the university must also forfeit all future distributions scheduled for this appearance.
• Disassociation of the former football student-athlete, the former men’s basketball student-athlete and the representative who provided extra benefits to the former men’s basketball student-athlete. This disassociation includes the refusal of any financial or recruiting assistance, as well as other conditions, which the public report further details.
• Release of three men’s basketball prospective student-athletes from their letters of intent (self-imposed by the university).
• Prohibition of all non-university personnel, including boosters, from traveling on football and men’s basketball charters; attending football and men’s basketball team practices; attending or participating in any way with university football and men’s basketball camps, including donation of funds; and having access to the sidelines and locker rooms for football and men’s basketball games. The public report further details appropriate exceptions for these limitations.
If you’re reading this, it’s past 3:00 p.m. EDT on the East Coast and the embargoed NCAA report on USC’s violations in both football and basketball has been made public. If you want to find it in your public library check under “horror,” because it is a bloodbath from start to finish.
The report is harsh from the start in tone, and gets more severe in its penalty summary, citing a lax atmosphere of sports agents coming into contact with athletes and an overall environment that “troubled” the committee.
The phrasing is harsh:
The actions of those professional agents and their associates, with the knowledge and acquiescence of the athletes, struck at the heart of the NCAA’s Principle of Amateurism, which states that participation in intercollegiate athletics should be “motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental, and social benefits to be derived.”
The penalties are worse: a two-year bowl ban for USC, the loss of 30 scholarships (15 max, but at least 10 each year over three years,) the prohibition of any non-university affiliated personnel from the sideline, locker room, and road trips, and four years’ probation as a repeat offender.
It is, metaphorically speaking, the hammer no one suspected would fall, and one that will likely result in the loss of their 2004 BCS Title.
The central figure in the USC sanctions mess, which could cost the school two years worth of postseason wins and 20 scholarships, finally spoke out about the case on ESPN Thursday:
“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 today’s decision and disagree with the NCAA’s findings. If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on making a positive impact for the University and for the community where I live.”
The full 67-page NCAA report is already in the media’s hands, and the sanctions outlined therein will be made public at 3 p.m. EDT.
While USC has not officially confirmed if it has even received the NCAA's report -- when reached for comment, Athletic Director Mike Garrett said "We are looking at things right now. That's about all I can say." -- more of the report detailing their punishment for violations stemming from 2006 continue to leak out.
The latest, from Gary Klein, the USC beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, is that the Trojans are losing "more than 20 football scholarships" (in addition to the two-year bowl ban), with the possibility of more punishment still to come.
Limited recruiting contacts, probation and forfeiture of victories are also among the penalties regarded as possibly in play.
USC sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the situation publicly, said they were bracing for the worst. One said the school probably would utilize an appeal process.
Asked if the sanctions were appropriate, a source said, "It depends how you look at it. It is if you're a UCLA fan."
It's been four years in the making, originally stemming from a 2006 report that Reggie Bush and family may have violated NCAA rules by receiving gifts, complete with delays and postponements, but finally, the NCAA has made it known what the punishment is for USC, via ESPN's Bruce Feldman.
The NCAA's penalties were stricter than expected, and there may still be more. The full report will be made available to the public on Thursday via teleconference.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: We're a short time away from learning the results of the NCAA's investigation into violations committed by USC's football and basketball programs. A good deal of speculation can mercifully be tossed out the window at this point, as reports indicate USC has actually got the Committee's report in hand:
The report, expected to be one of the longest the committee has ever issued, will be released to the public on Thursday via teleconference. USC will then hold a press conference or release a video statement shortly afterwards to respond to the NCAA's findings.
And if you think this means it's all about to be over, you're about to be rapidly disabused of that notion:
Following the release of the report, USC has 15 days to submit a written notice that it is appealing any findings or rulings of the Committee on Infractions. Appeals are based solely on the school's belief that the committee's findings are contrary to the evidence presented, or that the facts did not constitute a violation of NCAA rules or that there was a procedural error in the process.
For discussion of this and any further developments, check out SBN's USC Trojans blog, Conquest Chronicles.
Ever have that feeling that you're running out of ways to say there is not nor will there ever will be any meaningful movement on the USC/NCAA investigation front? I'm sure there's a French word for it. In related news, you'll just never guess what's happened now:
As of Thursday afternoon, Southern California was still waiting to hear from the NCAA on when an infractions committee decision will be announced, meaning almost certainly nothing will happen this week.
The NCAA typically notifies schools 48 hours in advance of an infractions announcement and then delivers the committee report 24 hours ahead of time, according to NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn. She would not speak directly to the USC case.
At this point, I would like to humbly suggest that everyone with even the slightest vested interest in this case move on with their lives. Plant a garden. Read a book. Read ten books. Watch your children grow up. You will accomplish all of this before anything else of remote interest happens in this case.
Hey, check it out! Movement on the NCAA Committee on Infractions' investigation of USC athletics!
The NCAA committee on infractions will release its findings regarding the USC football and basketball programs on Friday, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil on Sunday.
Just for context, this is why this is getting a touch exasperating:
The NCAA infractions committee held a hearing in February in which USC presented its responses to allegations of NCAA violations.
Sure they're handing the report down Friday. SURE THEY ARE. Sure. Pete Carroll will look his age before we see a shred of this thing. We are all of us Charlie Brown fruitlessly running after a football that will forever be snatched from our reach by the Committee's Lucy. (Reggie Bush is Sally.)
Stand down, Auburn faithful. Even if the NCAA comes down with all available force on USC and the BCS strips the Trojans of their 2004 national title, the Associated Press won't, as previously speculated, be voting on a new champion.
Also, this is all assuming the NCAA investigation will ever wrap. A process expected to last six to ten weeks is now well into week fourteen. At this rate, Brian Cushing will know the sex of the child he's carrying before we learn whether any of USC's wins will be vacated.
If it ever does end, (which, don't hold your breath), the NCAA investigation into USC athletics could sport some heretofore unseen twists on the sanctioning end. Until this point, attention has been focused largely on how any ruling might affect the future of USC football, but if the Committee on Infractions gives them enough wiggle room, the BCS may very well have its eye on changing the past:
Quietly in early 2007, as the investigation into USC and alleged improprieties involving Bush and his family was unfolding, college football's Bowl Championship Series drew up a policy calling for teams' BCS appearances and BCS titles to be vacated when major rules violations subsequently are discovered and the institutions are sanctioned by the NCAA. Current BCS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed the provision Wednesday.
Legally speaking, the Committee is now merrily bounding through the section of the map with the little clouds and the "HERE THERE BE DRAGONS" signs. There has never been a case quite like this one in the BCS era, but the central arguments for what will or won't go down are actually quite familiar:
I've got both feet planted firmly in the "this will never, ever end, ever" camp, and for what it's worth, so does the BCS brass:
Hancock emphasized, "Nothing would happen until the very end of the NCAA process, including any appeals."
But supposing this does wind down (very, very eventually), and the '04 championship gets vacated? That's where things can really get interesting. If the Associated Press can revote on Brian Cushing's rookie award, why can't they revote on the 2004 champion? And would that vote let 55-19 speak for itself, and leave the trophy in Trojan hands, or would Auburn finally get its day in the undefeated sun?
(And will any of this be resolved while the players on the affected teams are still alive?)
Try and prepare yourselves for a very serious shock. That report from the NCAA, on USC's violations and possible sanctions, that was scheduled for release later this week? It's been pushed back to later this month. (And by "this month," the brass that be could very well simply mean "May," and leave the year nonspecific in case the need arises for further wiggle room).
EDSBS has a very handy graph of the likely outcomes here. Pepper Brooks says, "I feel shocked." Conquest Chronicles says they'll "be happy when it is finally over regardless of the outcome." We (and I'm speaking for the human race here) could not agree more.
Does the NCAA have a secret stake in the blogosphere? Are they dragging this out to wring more ad dollars out of exasperated pageviews? Stay tuned.
To review, with regards to l'affaire USC: We still know nothing, and don't know when that will change. The end. For today. The good Doctor shares our disgust:
Only four short years after the NCAA opened its illegal benefits investigation into Reggie Bush's final season at USC, a ruling is on the way, according to Yahoo! Sports colleague Dan Wetzel, who reported via Twitter on Monday that the NCAA infractions committee will hand down its report later this week – likely including sanctions, if applicable.
But hey, any publicity is good publicity! (Isn't that right, Coach Kiffin?)
On Tuesday, the NCAA confirmed that a Pac-10 coach violated rules "for retaining a paid consultant to attend practices and watch games," or, an identical situation to when former USC head coach Pete Carrol quietly hired NFL veteran Pete Rodriguez to help with the kicking game. It should be noted that the report does not specifically mention Carrol (a USC spokesman would neither confirm or deny anything), but, it doesn't take much to read between the lines.
A Pacific 10 Conference head coach has been found in violation of NCAA rules for retaining a paid consultant to attend practices and watch games - circumstances identical to those surrounding former USC football coach Pete Carroll's hiring of an NFL veteran to help with the Trojans' punting and kicking teams - according to an internal Pac-10 report.
The document does not name the coach or the sport, but the Pac-10 sent it to the conference's schools after The Times reported last summer that Carroll had quietly employed Pete Rodriguez to monitor practices and games throughout the 2008 season, in apparent violation of NCAA limits on the number of coaches each team may hire.
The NCAA meetings with USC was just over nine weeks ago regarding the basketball and football teams and if these alleged violations are linked to USC the football team may actually receive some type of punishment from the NCAA.
The hits just keep on coming for the Trojans today. Dig deep: Remember Dave Watson, the USC assistant coach who was arrested for DUI following a car accident in the spring of 2008? Thanks to a lawsuit filed by an injured party in that accident, some potentially shady details have emerged:
Eight months after the accident, following which Watson was charged with DUI and pleaded no contest in exchange for three years' probation, Watson was fired by USC coach Pete Carroll. The reason cited by Carroll: Watson was too hard on his players. Neither the accident nor the fact that Watson had been addicted to pain medication was mentioned.
When asked where he had received his prescriptions while coaching at USC, Watson gave the names of 12 doctors associated with the university, six of whom were team doctors for USC football. Watson had already provided the court extensive documentation of these prescriptions, including dates, drug names and pill amounts.
When asked separately if he had ever notified a supervisor of his addiction, Watson said yes, he had told his boss and mentor, Carroll, in February 2008, three months before the car accident.
Carroll's prior knowledge isn't quite as interesting (or provable) at this point in the timeline, although it's leaned on in the article. He's well on his way to being the ghost of glories past for the Trojans. The team and university doctors, though ... whether or not any improprieties were committed (prescription drug usage isn't governed by the NCAA), pills sell headlines. These guys still in L.A., still at USC, are about to be the story.
Well, this is interesting (no, not "convenient" or "suspicious", just "interesting"): That neverending probe into behind-the-scenes activity at Southern California? Wrapped up, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. But please don't make the mistake of thinking this is going to lead to a speedy revelation or resolution of the situation. Looks like miles to go yet:
Sources familiar with the investigation have told Yahoo! Sports that the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions will meet from Feb. 19-21 to address what investigators uncovered at USC. According to typical NCAA procedures, if sanctions are necessary, they will be determined and then made public via a news conference within six-to-eight weeks of the February hearing.
This news drops mere hours after Pete Carroll's official resignation, but don't expect to hear much out of Heritage Hall about the matter. A cheeky reminder from ESPN: "USC has never acknowledged an NCAA investigation, notice of allegations or a pending hearing."
For more on Southern California check out SB Nation's USC blog, Conquest Chronicles...
When rumors of USC head coach Pete Carroll's departure for pro football first began to swirl on Friday, it almost happened too fast to process. After years of hearing rumors putting Carroll with this team or that team in the NFL, overnight, it all became real. Nothing with Seattle has been made official, of course, but he's definitely serious this time. And now that we've had some time to let the news settle, it's worth considering some of the implications of his departure.
Because Southern Cal, for all their stumbles this season, is still one of the three or four most presitgious college football programs in the country. Why would Pete Carroll leave now?
Well, for one thing, the resolution of a broad NCAA investigation is looming. Yahoo's Dan Wetzel reports:
Sources with knowledge of the situation say the NCAA is in the final stages of what has become a two-sport, department-wide investigation into USC athletics. A source told Yahoo! Sports that Reggie Bush voluntarily met with NCAA investigators last summer to discuss allegations of receiving extra benefits from marketing representatives.
Details in the case date back to 2004, when Bush allegedly began receiving cash, clothes, cars, travel and a rent-free home for his mother and stepfather from marketing companies. The case could run through last month’s revelation that Joe McKnight ("the next Reggie Bush") was driving a SUV registered to an L.A.-area businessman. It also includes agent activity surrounding former basketball star O.J. Mayo that led to the resignation of coach Tim Floyd and the school sanctioning itself last month.
The Trojans represent a must-get for the NCAA, a case that is so over-the-top, so well-publicized and so blatantly against the most obvious of rules that it can’t allow the Trojans to escape without losing all credibility and dealing with an avalanche of national criticism. Many in college athletics wonder that if the NCAA can’t get USC, what’s the point of the operation?
All of this is why the NCAA has been so slow and cautious. Here’s how the system works: The NCAA enforcement staff (the cops) get one chance to present their findings to the infractions committee (the jury). That jury has built a recent reputation for turning a blind eye on even obvious violations, in part because it’s mostly made up of sympathetic athletic directors.
In the Bush case, the enforcement staff patiently has waited for all the possible facts to come out. This includes Bush’s potential under oath testimony in a lawsuit filed by Lake. If the NCAA acted swiftly, it would’ve missed out on speaking with Bush (or getting sworn testimony) and thus presented a weaker case to the jury.
It's a wide-ranging investigation, and many in the college football world doubted whether the NCAA was ever really serious about looking into the (alleged) infractions at USC. Now, though, it seems a verdict may finally come to fruition, with Carroll's departure perhaps the greatest cue of all that the program's headed for trouble.
Recently, the NCAA turned down USC's offer to self-impose sanctions for the investigation, and CBS' Charlie Casserly reported this afternoon that the NCAA's decision in that matter spurred Carroll to head for the NFL. Previously, it'd been widely assumed that Coach Carroll--who had a dream scenario at Southern Cal--would only leave for the NFL if he was given a lot of money and full control over player personnel decisions. In Seattle, he'll definitely satisfy the first condition, but probably not the second.
Why would Pete Carroll suddenly compromise his demands? Nothing's been stated explicitly from anyone involved, but let's use our powers of deduction. Given the context, you'd have to think that Carroll is preempting the NCAA investigators, and jumping ship while his reputation's still in tact.The writing's on the wall, and it's pretty simple.
Investigation + Inevitable Penalties = Carroll finally leaving.
Which equals a bleak future for the USC football program. For now, the most tangible losses are being felt in recruiting. We alluded to this yesterday, and today, Pete Thamel of the New York Times expounded:
[5-Star recruit Dillon] Baxter dreamed of playing for Carroll at U.S.C. but said it was now a "hot possibility that I’ll change." His high school recruiting coach has already been flooded with calls from programs like Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, U.C.L.A. and Arizona, he said.
There were players in the All-American Bowl who had planned to commit to the Trojans but decided against it, [5-star recruit D.J.] Morgan said.
"They don’t want to do it since Pete’s not going to be there," Morgan said.
If Carroll does leave U.S.C., Bob Lichtenfels, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said as many as seven of the players who have committed to the Trojans could sign with other teams.
"They feel let down and lied to," Lichtenfels said. "It’s going to be tough for whoever to make that up."
But right now, that might be the least of their concerns. Losing recruits may hurt in the short term, but Southern California could be in for much more prolonged losses at the hands of the NCAA. For years, Pete Carroll flirted with the NFL but ultimately decided to stick with the dream situation he had at USC.
Maybe it's no coincidence that's he leaving now. Maybe USC's headed for a nightmare.
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