Southern Cal Gets Hammered By NCAA

The NCAA penalties announced against the University of Southern California Thursday have many thinking about the damage done to Alabama football during the past decade. Trojans, no doubt, are taking heart in the Crimson Tide's thorough return to prominence.

Alabama stormed to the national championship last year under Coach Nick Saban. USC will begin its recovery with untested Lane Kiffin, who had nothing to do with the violations. Pete Carroll escaped to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

In a nutshell, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions penalized Southern Cal for violations in its football, men's basketball, and women's tennis programs.

(Women's tennis?!?! Has anyone heard of a women's tennis program being caught cheating since or before Auburn? Yes, one of Auburn's record NCAA probations included cheating in women's tennis, of all things, though most AU transgressions were in football.)

The penalties against USC include:

• Four years of probation

•¨A two-year football postseason ban

• Vacation of regular-season and postseason wins for all three sports

• Scholarship reductions in football (to 15 initial grants and 75 total grants for each of the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, which represents a decrease of 10 scholarships for each of the three seasons)

• Scholarship reductions in men's basketball (from 13 to 12 for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years)

• Recruiting restrictions for men's basketball

• The institution also must pay a $5,000 penalty and forfeit revenue from the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship

When Alabama was forced to vacate its 2006 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech, it enabled Southern Cal to take a short-lived lead over the Crimson Tide in all-time bowl victories. With both teams now having suffered a vacated bowl win (USC in 2004 in the national championship victory over Oklahoma), the Tide and Trojans are now tied for the national lead in bowl victories at 31.

USC vacations will not affect the Trojans' standing against Alabama in any other category. Bama already has more victories, a better all-time record, more undefeated seasons, and more 10-win seasons.

To some, the harsh penalties were a surprise. The NCAA enforcement staff traditionally has seemed to overlook the transgressions in the Pac-10, the Big Ten and at Notre Dame – the schools that declined to join the College Football Association when it attempted to break from the NCAA in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

In truth, the length of time between when most Americans knew about the transgressions and the time the crack NCAA enforcement staff got on the trail allowed Southern Cal the opportunity to sweep much under the rug, or let it fall through the cracks. Not to say that's what happened, just that it could have with such a tardy investigation.

USC may be hoping for relief. It's not going to happen. Although the NCAA professes to be run by the members and has representatives of member institutions and others serving on committees, in truth the staff in Indianapolis appears to be Law & Order, including through the Kangaroo Court of appeals. The enforcement staff investigates and files the charges, and has its fingerprints all over the determinations of the Infractions Committee and the Infractions Appeals Committee.

The chairman of the Infractions Appeals Committee had to be embarrassed during his moment in the sun in denying Alabama justice one year. In the course of the press conference it was revealed he had just read the result the night before. And, oh yes, there was a fatal flaw in the ruling that should have led to relief for Alabama. That was simply glossed over.

Anyone wishing to make a comparison of USC to Alabama should recognize the many aspects cited against the Trojans and not the Tide.

From the NCAA Report:

"The committee noted that the violations in this case strike at the heart of the NCAA amateurism principal, which states that intercollegiate athletics should be motivated primarily by education and its benefits....

"The findings in this case include a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits, and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach."

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