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NCAA Decision On Cam Newton Should Be Good News for USC

PASADENA, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans celebrates following a touchdown by running back Allen Bradford (not pictured) late in the second half against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on December 4, 2010 in Pasadena, California. USC defeated UCLA 28-14. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Earnest HarrisContributor IDecember 8, 2010

The decision handed down last week by the NCAA that found Cam Newton eligible to play for Auburn in the SEC title game against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks was not only good news for Newton and Auburn fans, but should also be a reason for USC Trojan fans to smile.

USC, which just completed its first year of sanctions under a very tough punishment handed out by the NCAA. Those sanctions stem from violations largely related to Reggie Bush and his parents benefiting from financial support the parents received by living rent-free in a San Diego house owned by a marketing rep trying to sign Bush to his agency.

Those sanctions, as is widely known now, included, a two-year bowl ban for the university, the loss of 30 scholarships over three years and the vacating of all USC victories from the 2004 season, including its national title from that year.

Of course another result was Reggie Bush "voluntarily" giving back the Heisman Trophy he won that year, a move that simply beat the Heisman Trust to the punch since it was widely speculated that it would force him to return it anyway.

Many considered these punishments to be overly harsh since they stemmed not from something done on the football field or even directly by the athlete himself, even if he knew it was going on.

And many point out that punishing current athletes for the sins of others when these kids were in junior high does not make sense. USC is appealing the sanctions, at least the severity, hoping that they can get the bowl ban reduced to one year, so next year they are eligible, and possibly get some of those scholarships back. The appeal is due to be heard next month.

Which is why the Cam Newton decision comes at a good time for USC. It certainly will be hard for the NCAA to escape criticism of unfairly targeting USC or having an SEC bias when the similarities of the Cam Newton and Reggie Bush situations are point out.

Both involved Heisman-worthy candidates who had remarkable years and both involved awful behavior, not directly by the athletes themselves, but by the parents of those athletes, without any direct benefit seeming to flow to the athlete or university as a result of the parent's action.

In a Los Angeles Times piece, Pat Haden, the new athletic director at USC said this about the ruling on Newton:

"In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent [did] something inappropriate the kid and the school suffered...Our kids are 18, 19, 20 years old, are they really responsible for their parents' behavior?"

I think most people will agree that they shouldn't be. Which is why we shouldn't be surprised if the NCAA alters the punishment for USC. So USC has to thank Cam Newton and his dad in a way.

At least by showing how hard it is for universities and athletes to be 100 percent perfect when it comes to policing agents, marketers and even parents, when it comes to following NCAA rules. 

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