Penn State received some “time off” for good behavior from the NCAA earlier this week.
USC is hoping for something similar — we think — from The Association.
In a statement posted to USC’s official football website, athletic director Pat Haden acknowledged that he had discussions with officials from the NCAA earlier this week. While the meeting had been scheduled weeks earlier, Haden said, part of his time with the NCAA was spent discussing the easing of scholarship restrictions on Penn State and what if anything could be done — immediately — to the Trojans’ own scholarship restrictions.
As a result of the Reggie Bush impermissible benefits case, the Trojans were slapped with harsh sanctions in 2010, including a two-year bowl ban (already served) and the reduction of 10 scholarships per year.
While the sanctions come to an end this year, Haden proposed “‘outside the box’ solutions to scholarship issues” the AD claims is not in the best interests of our student-athlete’s welfare. From Haden’s statement:
“After learning of the NCAA’s actions on Tuesday (Sept. 24) regarding Penn State and the lessening of the sanctions that were imposed on that institution, when viewed in the context of the events that have shaken intercollegiate athletics over the past year, we felt compelled to discuss USC’s sanctions in a new light. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases. I also believe the sanctions have resulted in unintended consequences both for our football program and our student-athletes. Although the sanctions reduced our total football scholarship limit to 75 (down from 85), attrition resulting from injuries and transfers has resulted in less than 60 recruited scholarship student-athletes suiting up for our games. The current situation is certainly not what was envisioned, nor is it in the best interests of our student-athletes’ welfare.
“In reducing Penn State’s scholarship penalties, the NCAA specifically noted the ‘progress’ it had made regarding athletics integrity. Since the Committee on Infractions (COI) issued its sanctions in 2010, USC has been held up as a model and praised for its integrity and commitment to compliance, a fact often mentioned by the NCAA itself. Although USC had two unsuccessful bites at the apple (the original COI hearing and the appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee), given the changing landscape impacting intercollegiate sports over the past year, the recent action regarding Penn State, the impact of the sanctions on our program and the efforts we have under taken at USC to compete with integrity, we again argued for some consideration regarding the 2010 sanctions during the last year of our penalty.”
Haden went on to state that the NCAA was open to the school’s initial proposal as “the NCAA asked us to provide additional information and indicated it would study our suggestions. Just what “out of the box” remedy Haden is seeking in the here and now is unclear.
The AD, though, wants an answer, one way or the other, from the NCAA as soon as possible,
“Because time is of the essence regarding these issues, we have asked for the NCAA’s response as soon as practical,” Haden wrote.
The NCAA opened up a big can of worms by “correcting” a portion of Penn State’s historic sanctions. USC won’t be the first program to go to the NCAA to seek relief from what they consider unfair sanctions; how the NCAA handles USC — and Boise State and Miami (if the NCAA ever gets down to issuing a ruling) and on and on — will be fascinating on myriad levels, not the least of which is simply watching The Association making sh… stuff up as they go along.