In June 2010, USC received the most severe NCAA football sanctions since the SMU death penalty. This was primarily due to the Reggie Bush family receiving payments from a family friend and convicted felon who wanted to be Bush’s sports agent.
Shortly after, USC appealed these sanctions asking for a reduction from 30 to 15 lost scholarships over three years, from two to one-year bowl ban, and removal of the show-cause penalty for then USC running back coach Todd McNair.
USC accepted responsibility for the violations that were not appealed, and most of the sanctions.
The primary issues being appealed are:
1. The erroneous finding that Todd McNair was told about the Bush payments and did not report it due to NCAA errors and lack of due process.
2. The unprecedented finding that a summer intern employer was a representative of the university for hiring USC athletes even though this was acceptable in past years with UCLA and other college athletes.
3. The penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified and inconsistent with precedent in similar cases.
The appealed penalties will not be implemented until after the appeal decision. This means that USC accepted the first year of the bowl ban in 2010-2011, and 5 scholarship reductions in 2011 assuming the appeal decision is not rendered until after the February 2 signing day, which is likely based on NCAA delays.
Unfortunately for USC, the NCAA changed its appeal rules in 2008 to make it very difficult to win an appeal.
To make matters worse, the NCAA recently took the unprecedented action of separating the Todd McNair part of the appeal from the USC appeal as discussed in USC Football: Trojans Sanction Appeal is Rigged Like NCAA Sanctions.
Unlike most other colleges that received NCAA sanctions because they (or their boosters) gave money to multiple athletes either to entice them to attend or keep them, USC or its boosters were not involved in any payments to Bush’s family.
In fact, the payments by outside parties were designed to get Bush to leave USC, which he did a year earlier than required.
Yet, USC received more severe football sanctions involving primarily a single athlete. The NCAA errors involving the two key witnesses were known and not corrected, and unprecedented findings were designed to attempt to justify the harsh sanctions.
Here is comprehensive information about the NCAA vs. USC for those interested in the details.
The USC case illustrates many problems with the NCAA enforcement process. Fixes are discussed in Eight Solutions to Fix the NCAA and Improve College Football.
Here are 10 reasons that the NCAA should drop the second-year bowl ban for USC. The case is even stronger for the reduction of the 30 scholarship penalty.