No shame at USC for NCAA sanctions. The USC response: “There was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has imposed harsh penalties on the USC athletic program for disregarding NCAA rules and for permitting a general campus environment that made compliance efforts difficult.

USC is barred from post-season bowl games for two years, is losing ten scholarships a year for three years, is on probation for four years, and is docked 14 victories and probably the 2004 national championship, The bowl ban could be especially costly: the Rose Bowl paid its participating teams $13.5 million each last year.

USC’s sin: allowing super star Reggie Bush and his parents “impermissible benefits in the form of cash, merchandise, an automobile, housing, hotel lodging, and transportation…worth many thousands of dollars,” and allowing basketball star O. J. Mayo to collect “benefits in the form of cash, lodging, merchandise, automobile transportation, meals, airline transportation, and services.”

Pete Carroll, arguably the most successful football coach in America for the past nine years, was “absolutely shocked and disappointed” at the NCAA decision. He protested that “We didn’t know, the University didn’t know” about the Bush violations. Carroll may not have known, but Todd McNair, a USC assistant coach did. And athletic director Mike Garrett made it clear that he didn’t want to hear about the Mayo affair.

The rule breaking substantiated by the NCAA investigation is bad enough. The university is making it worse by announcing that it will appeal the penalties. But the topper comes from Garrett. “As I read the decision by the NCAA, I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.”

It’ll be hard for any one with the slightest sense that ethics has a place in sport to root for the Trojans any longer—not until the toxic spirit of Garrett, McNair, and, yes, even the sainted Pete Carroll, is cleaned out and the university makes a commitment to integrity in athletics.

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2 Responses to “No shame at USC for NCAA sanctions. The USC response: “There was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.””

  1. Jack Marshall Says:

    I hate to say this, but I long ago concluded that nobody who cares about ethics should root for any big-time college sports and events, including the Bowls and the Final Four. They represent warped values, misuse of scarce resources, bad educational practice and inevitable corruption….as this story shows. I’d advocate the elimination of all academic scholarships, and treating athletic achievement in high school no differently than any other kind of achievement. Let pro basketball and football build their own farm system.

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    I half agree with you, no, make that two-thirds. They also represent youthful enthusiasm (which seems to get more appealing with each passing year), occasionally worthwhile values, and sometimes sportsmanship.

    I occasionally find something ethically admirable to write about, especially the behavior of Chip Kelly, the second-year coach at Oregon. I was in love with Pete Carroll, but he broke my heart.

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