Those who believe the University of Southern California Trojans (USC) deserved their punishment won’t ever be swayed. However, those who understand the actual malfeasance compared to the punishment, know that the penalties the NCAA hammered the school with were at best, over the top.
Athletic Director Pat Haden has taken much grief from fans and alumni for not fighting the NCAA to the bitter end. Though no actual reason was given, Haden felt it was time to take the medicine dished out and go about their way trying to build the football program back to its spot in the hierarchy of college football. That was until the NCAA felt obliged this week to reduce Penn State’s penalties only a year after instituting harsh punishments for their part in the child abuse scandal (also see video).
The NCAA announced that they would gradually restore scholarships to Penn State starting next season. Also considered is whether to reduce the postseason ban. This unusual move by the NCAA is ostensibly in response to the school’s good-faith efforts.
Haden’s reaction was that USC has also been complying with sanctions and works closely with the NCAA to fulfill their obligations to the penalties. The Trojans AD believed that due to the circumstances of the actions that occurred in Happy Valley last year, if the NCAA felt compelled to lessen the penalties on Penn State, there should be some commensurate reduction of sanctions on USC’s program as well.
Obviously, the USC Trojans don’t have many friends in the NCAA after they dragged the initial penalty phase out in regards to the Reggie Bush situation. In short, you might recall Bush’s family had hired agents to represent the player before he was out of college. The NCAA deemed it the schools responsibility to rein in the players and not allow them to break the rules. Of many arguments, USC had disputed the idea that they were somehow accountable for what families many miles away from the school do businesswise.
Regardless, the Trojans were meted out the heaviest punishment this side of the ‘death penalty’ and as a result, the program is struggling to stay relevant as a national power. Even many in the media stated the sanctions were a travesty of justice. Still, the penalties occurred and they have one more year before USC’s football program will be able to recruit the maximum players.
Haden had stated on Tuesday he would not go any further regarding discussions with the NCAA, but now it’s evident he is indeed asking for reduced punishment. Whether the wrath of fans and alumni alike had any affect isn’t known but Haden has asked the NCAA to respond as soon as possible.
It’s an improbable longshot that the USC Trojans will receive any relief from the remaining sanctions. However, at least Trojan fans can find solace that their AD finally felt compelled to fight for some reprieve of the scholarship sanctions that have crippled the team injury-wise.
When it comes to the NCAA, what's good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
So USC fans? Don’t hold your breath.