Death to USC?

The NCAA and the University of Southern California Athletic Department converged in Arizona over the weekend for a hearing-or as i like to call it a “trial”. With the NCAA you are guilty until you prove your own innocence and any Vol fan should be extremely happy about that. After the first day Kiffin was smiling upon leaving but when asked about it he said “I’m smiling because I’m leaving” insinuating that not all is well behind closed doors. While the final verdict won’t be know for 6-10 weeks we do have information on the accusations and precedent for penalties. Football took the first two days in what was a bit of a surprise giving USC only one day to tell the NCAA about the Basketball program.  If they are found guilty on both charges (dealing with Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo) then precedent would tell us they could be dealt a Lack of Institutional Control Violation, which means that the Program in question is either Incapable, Incompetent, or Unwilling to properly monitor their sports programs, which constitutes heavy penalties which I will get to momentarily. This hearing is the culmination of four years worth of investigation.

NCAA Vice President of Enforcement David Price called this hearing the longest in his 11 years with the organization. USC brought in 7 boxes and 2 massive bound folders containing USC’s attempts to prove their innocence. USC is a private school so they don’t have to abide by the Freedom of Information Act and have kept details quite because of this. What we do know however is what ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have reported on the paying of OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush.

Starting with OJ as reported by ESPN the following have been obtained or witnesses and or evidence have come forward testifying:

  • receipts of wired Western Union money transfers to friends of Mayo while he was still in highschool (to avoid direct attention) from a USC Donor/Agent
  • Hotel and Airline receipts to Mayo’s hometown and road game/tourney locations from the same Donor
  • 2 paid for shopping sprees at Men’s Land in LA, Mayo’s cell phone bill charged to a Non Profit owned by USC Donor as well as one of his relatives bill
  • Airline tickets and schedules for family and friends to visit mayo at USC
  • Coach Floyd was seen give $1000 dollars to USC donor for direct purpose of giving to Mayo in plain sight and hearing range of a sports reporter
  • Flat Screen TV, hotel rooms, and meals paid for by “National Organization for Sickle Cell Prevention & Awareness Foundation” for Mayo. Organization never registered as a charitable trust with the California Attorney General’s office or the LA sickle cell charitable community. Traced to USC donor.

USC did self report these violations and fired Coach Floyd which can only help. They gave themselves a loss of 1 scholarship and a 2 year ban on post season appearances. The fact that the NCAA is still looking into these violations even after USC punished itself can’t be considered good for the school and probably means the NCAA doesn’t think they did a good enough job and will show them what they should have done in the first place. Overall it is estimated that USC Donors paid $200,000 worth of gifts for Mayo.

Coach Floyd was called before the Hearing on Saturday and its safe to say this his version of the story and USC’s probably were not the same.

Yahoo! Sports took the lead on Reggie Bush scandal. It seems as if two marketing companies were competing to become Reggie’s agent during his college career. If this is proven then his eligibility would have been taken away. Their are reports that USC coach Todd McNair new about this. The following were reported to have been provided to Bush and his family:

  • One company admitted to loaning money to the Bush family but says that they were paid back, doesn’t matter though as it is still a violation
  • Round trip Air fare to USC away game at Cal for family as well as Limo transportation and a room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Fransisco
  • Suites in NYC, Limo transportation to the Heisman ceremony, and a makeover for Reggie’s mom
  • Weekly 1500 payment for the Bushes
  • Reggie a vacation to Vegas at the Venetian
  • Hyatt Regency room when visiting home in San Diego
  • New Car
  • $54,000 in rent free living for a year @ a $757,000 mansion
  • $28,000 to settle existing Bush family debts

Reggie himself also committed a violation when he contacted current player Joe McKnight and told him he would love for him to play at USC. As a former player and alumni he is considered a Booster by the NCAA. McKnight is also under scrutiny after being seen driving a Range Rover around town. Range Rover belongs to Reggie’s daughters mother.   Overall close to an estimated $300,000 dollars were given to Bush and family in the forms of cash, lodging, and various other forms of payment.

Both Yahoo! Sports and ESPN cited sources who turned evidence over to the NCAA. USC could wiggle their way out of this but the evidence looks to be significant. The NCAA needs to send a message to everyone and there is not a better opportunity than the present to do it. Punishment opportunities abound in this case:

  • Vacating Wins from 04-05 when the Bush incident happened
  • Reggie could have to give up his Heisman and USC their National Title
  • Memphis was forced to pay back all post-season revenue last year in the Derek Rose incident so the precedent is there to make USC pay back the money they made from playing in two BCS national championship games during those two years (close to 30 million dollars would be payout)
  • Television and Post Season bans (probably around 3 years have been tossed around)
  • Scholarship deductions

As if that is not enough if proven guilty of the Bush incident then the Death penalty becomes an option (D.P. only administered if major violations occur multiple times with in a 5 year period) as USC was cited a major violation in 01 and the Bush incident happened in 04-05. The last time a death penalty (total barring from playing said sport for said time period) was administered to a football team was the ’87 SMU team who was paying players. As a result:

  • The 1987 season was canceled; only conditioning drills (without pads) would be permitted until the spring of 1988.
  • All home games in 1988 were canceled. SMU was allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected. The university would ultimately choose not to do so (see below).
  • The team’s existing probation was extended to 1990. Its existing ban from bowl games and live television was extended to 1989.
  • SMU lost 55 new scholarship positions over 4 years.
  • The team was only allowed to hire five full-time assistant coaches, instead of the typical nine.
  • No off-campus recruiting would be permitted until August 1988, and no paid visits could be made to campus by would-be recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

The death penalty has only been administered 5 times and strongly considered it against Alabama in 2002. If another MAJOR violation had happened between then and 07 they would have gotten it. UK basketball has received it one time and almost did a second (always knew they were cheaters).  USC would not be able to overcome a Death Penalty very quickly in the dog eat dog world of College Football today.

The NCAA needs to come down hard and quick. If they do not punish USC severely then schools will see this as “go cheat and we won’t do much to hurt you.” I doubt the death penalty will take place (although I think Kiffin deserves to be punished that badly) but I will be completely happy with Loss of wins, title, heisman, post season revenue, scholarship deductions and bans from post season and television.  Lets remember the NCAA already does not like Lane Kiffin.

I am hoping for 2 years Ban on TV, Bowl, and -10 scholarships for 2 years at minimum.


About Steven Harris

Steven Harris is a fifth year senior at the University of Tennessee. Majoring in sports journalism, this blog provides an outlet for Harris to share his thoughts on the state of the University of Tennessee's athletic department''s Volunteer teams. View all posts by Steven Harris

4 responses to “Death to USC?

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