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.
Tags: 2004 national championship, bowl games¸ scholarships, compliance, envy, ethics, integrity, Mike Garrett, NCAA, NCAA sanctions, O. J. Mayo, penalties, Pete Carroll, probation, Reggie Bush, Rose Bowl, Sport, Todd McNair, Trojans, USC assistant coach, USC basketball, USC football