The Trojans Will Be Punished

The statute of limitations does not apply. The USC Trojans will be punished for "lack of institutional control". They will be penalized: They will miss at least one bowl, in addition to losing "some" scholarships. It just depends on how well USC was able to keep the investigation focused only on the Reggie Bush case.

Obviously this is just my opinion - and I do admit my bias - but I have also been down this road before myself and have studied this case closely for similarities as to how the conference and how the NCAA treated us and how they are treating USC.

They are obviously guilty of the infamous "lack of institutional control" because their basketball scandal compounded the football situation. Of course they imposed their own penalty for the basketball violations, and here was a direct tie between the basketball coaches and sports agents. Cash did change hands. In their football case there is not a tie that we know of between the football coaches and the agents other than casual acquaintances.

The question to be answered is simply a matter of the degree of the penalty. So will the NCAA follow their own precedents? Alabama got busted in 2002 with a 2-year bowl ban and a loss of 22 scholarships over three years. Washington got a similar 2-year bowl ban and lost 20 scholarships over two years, as well as giving up official visits back in 1993. I think USC gets half of that.

USC, being a private institution, has been able to do a much better job of protecting privacy rights and has actually defended themselves throughout this long investigation, whereas Washington's administration at the time rolled over and capitulated. Alabama simply got exposed and couldn't deny their alumni were involved in supplying "extra benefits".

Washington's case was similar to Alabama's in how the NCAA handled it, but the two cases were a decade apart. "Boosters" were charged with violations, but not the school. It didn't matter; the kids at the school paid the penalty.

All the cases were major, and major cases don't go unnoticed and unpunished by the NCAA. There have been differences in the past as to how the NCAA treated public schools to how they treated private ones and this might work in the Trojans' favor.

Believe me, USC has the exact same alumni problems both Alabama and Washington had, and I am positive their kids have always found good deals for housing, cars, summer jobs, and support through the USC "network" of supporters. The Trojans have always sold their southern California alumni in their recruiting at least for reference purposes. For years they showed recruits their own sort of Yellow Pages of supporters, alumni, and graduates.

Basically, most college players figure out where to go for legal help, for employment help, for rental help, for academic help, for financial help, as well as any free admission or access to clubs, shows, and bars. It happens at all schools and there are even some schools that used to take kids on visits to their local shops for everything from jewelry, to electronics, to cars, to banks, to churches, to bakeries, and to barbers. Here is where you go for a deal. They would be introduced to the owners of the stores and shown how to get their "discounts". It was all part of the sell.

We recruited and visited many of the USC players throughout the years and I know personally what kind of cars they drove in high school and what kind of car they drove in college. I stood outside the players' parking area after one of our games down there and watched them drive away in all kinds of nice cars. I know they were finding deals somewhere - it wasn't hard to figure out.

Very few USC students live on campus, so apartment housing is common and their players do find nice places. That's just the way it is. I know they had ticket brokers for years who would buy the kids' tickets and give them a good price for them. I know because I sold some of my own Rose Bowl tickets through the exact same people.

Almost no mention is ever made of the Dwayne Jarrett case anymore with reference to their "housing" solutions. He was recruited by alumni, hosted by a USC quarterback (Matt Leinart) and invited to live on the beach with him in a condo that was well beyond the means of a normal college student.

Jarrett, who was suspended, has his eligibility eventually restored, but that case highlighted how certain players were receiving extra benefits, and over time all those things add up.

That's precisely why I think there be penalties, and it's now just a matter of how severe. Reggie Bush's housing deal was through an agent, and no direct connection to any of the coaches at the time has been proven, so that should work in their favor. Otherwise, USC claims they knew nothing about where Bush's parents were living and therefore had nothing to do with it. I would imagine that Bush gave testimony to that effect.

Agents are out of control anyway, especially in places like LA. The Trojans have always had open practices, so access to players has always been easy. Good agents try to develop relations with coaches, but bad agents couldn't care less.

Technically, because agents are outside of your control, anything they do is not treated the same as if it was an alumnus or booster. This should also work in their favor, so their penalty will not be a severe as it was for either Alabama or Washington - but they will be penalized all the same.

I'd be terribly surprised if the Trojans walk away with nothing, but then again USC is pretty important considering there is no NFL team in LA and it is a pretty significant TV market. This case will definitely test the NCAA's resolve, as well as their sense of fair play.


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