Confirming almost every Bruin fan's suspicion that had been held for the better part of a decade, investigations have revealed that Reggie Bush was indeed getting paid to play at USC.
According to multiple sources, the University of Southern California will face major penalties in the wake of the investigations surrounding the Heisman Trophy winner, as well as basketball star O.J. Mayo.
Back in February, the NCAA infractions committee held a hearing to investigate violations made by USC’s men’s football and basketball programs. The results had been expected for months, and in spite of the self-imposed sanctions on the basketball program, the NCAA may not be done punishing USC men’s hoops yet.
With a two-year postseason ban along with a reduction of at least 20 football scholarships expected to be doled out by the NCAA, Southern Cal may have to wait to compete for a championship in the newly-expanded Pac 11-16 (University of Colorado plus the possible addition of the Big 12 Texas and Oklahoma schools).
In January, the Trojan basketball team removed themselves from postseason play, trimmed their recruiting and scholarships, and negated all of their wins from the 2007-08 season—the year Mayo played for the program.
In hindsight, these sanctions are now viewed as an obvious ploy to deflect punishment from USC’s big moneymaker, its football program.
Bruin Nation can expect the NCAA to make an example out of Southern Cal, as no BCS program had been banned from postseason play in seven years (Michigan was sanctioned in 2003 for—wait for it—paying student-athletes).
Two potential BCS bowl-game victories could have brought the university tens of millions of dollars in revenue, so these sanctions will undoubtedly hit USC where it hurts: In the pocketbook and in the trophy case.
If he is declared retroactively ineligible, the Heisman Trust could strip Bush of his 2005 trophy. The image of Bush being forced to give his Heisman trophy back surely brings a smile to the face of many a Bruin fan.
Bush has been investigated for taking improper benefits, including an alleged rent-free residence for his parents, from a sports marketer while he attended USC from 2003-05. The Trojans won a BCS Championship in 2004, and may be forced to forfeit all of their wins from that season, and possibly other seasons as well.
In a public relations move intended to deter perception of institutional chaos, Southern Cal’s athletic department contested the NCAA’s allegations when they initially surfaced. Given recent developments, the university’s penalty will likely be more severe than if USC had simply taken its punishment lying down.
On a side note, kudos to former Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, who ditched Heritage Hall for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks just before the NCAA turned up the heat on Southern Cal’s athletic department.
Details continue to unfold, so stay tuned.