After the NCAA’s four-year investigation of USC for allegations centered around former football player Reggie Bush, and former basketball player O.J. Mayo, USC has been found guilty of the sports crime of rule breakerage. A slew of penalties have been handed to the Trojans who, unlike Trojan users, are not protected from the consequences of their actions.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) investigation started back in March of 2006 after reports that Reggie Bush’s mother, brother and stepfather had lived in a San Diego-area home owned by a marketer who planned to represent Reggie once he turned pro. As it turned out, New Era provided housing, air travel, a car with the bumper sticker “The Best Things in Life are Free”, and other significant benefits to Bush’s mother and stepfather, who obviously relished in the perks with Reggie’s best interest in mind.
The O.J. Mayo inquiry began in May 2008 after a former associate told ESPN that the basketball player received cash and other fun freebies from an event promoter who helped influence Mayo’s decision to choose USC over Kansas State (an accomplishment that could’ve been made simply by pointing to the nearby beach).
Reggie Bush, now a Superbowl Champion running back for the New Orleans Man-Do-We-Need-Some-Saints, and O.J. Mayo, who plays professional basketball for the Memphis Grizzlies, have, naturally, denied any wrongdoing during their time playing for the USC Trojans. They merely followed the leads provided for them all the way to the bank.
There have also been wrongdoings found with USC’s women’s tennis program, which draws attention to such program’s existence. The women’s tennis program was penalized because a player used a university credit card to make $7,000 worth of international phone calls. Clearly, no one taught her about Skype.
The NCAA tries to focus on an amateurism principle where athletes are motivated by education, not money. However, both college sports program leaders and star college athletes have a tendency to prefer financial gain over academic success… which tends to be how they ended up in the field in the first place.
Sure, some young talent are capable and interested in both learning and developing their athletic skills, but they don’t tend to choose USC.
“The general campus environment surrounding the violations troubled the committee,” the report stated. Perhaps all those “Money for Mayo” campaigns from 2007 should’ve been destroyed.
The whole debacle puts coach Pete Carroll’s move to the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks into question. Now it sure seems like Pete Carroll knew this doom was inevitable, making his comment that he “would be surprised if the NCAA took any action on USC” just look like a bad bluff attempt.
USC was cited for a lack of institutional control, which is less embarrassing than a lack of bladder control, but with no FloMax to cure the issue.
The university was also cited with impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits and unethical conduct. Doesn’t seem like Ethics, Practical Economics or Public Relations are popular classes on campus or during hiring seminars at the school.
The penalties include, but are not limited to: “vacating” (like, being evicted from) all wins from December 2004 (the BCS title game included) through the entirety of the 2005 season; loss of 30 scholarships that, as it turns out, are paired with cash to attract talent to the program; and USC is banned from postseason play for two seasons, even though the previous penalty would probably cause a natural occurrence of such destiny.
The people who will suffer the most under these penalties weren’t at USC in 2004 and 2005 and are not the ones to blame, unless they too have some seriously forbidden cash flow coming into their pockets that won’t be dealt with for another five years, in which case this works out just fine.
Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo are now NFL and NBA stars. They are rich and famous, just like USC told them they’d be. Reggie Bush’s mom and stepdad used this fame for profit, breaking NCAA rules in the process, but who cares? They got away with it without a problem. Former coach Pete Carroll signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Seahawks, keeping him away from this firestorm of controversy. They may or may not be Good Guys, but they’re certainly living the Good Life.
USC is allowed to appeal the ruling, but that would only delay the inevitable. After putting four years and 67-pages of reporting into this, the NCAA is not going to let the violations go, even if USC offers them cash.
USC is not learning any kind of lesson from these punishments, no matter how harsh they may seem. Here’s a
look at the five other violations in the repeat offender’s history of foul play:
2001 — Tutors get busted for academic fraud when they wrote papers for football and women’s swimming athletes. Perhaps it was obvious when the papers discussed goals for PhDs instead of trophies. Oops.
Penalties: two-year probation, scholarship reductions. A firm slap on the wrist and withholding of some allowance. Tough.
1986 — Improper distribution of complimentary tickets (putting the “very” in VIP), recruiting contact, minor recruiting inducements and out-of-season practices and tryouts in football program. Forgoing that vacation has never been a worse idea.
Penalties: two-year probation, scholarship reductions, recruiting limitations for coaches. Warning, money cut that doesn’t compare to the free money received and forced coach vacation. Strict, tough punishment.
1982 — Ticket scheme used to funnel cash to football players. Allegations also included academic fraud, improper employment and eligibility. Organized crime lessons taught by the mafia for a percentage of the cash.
Penalties: three-year probation, two-year postseason ban, two-year television ban, recruiting limitations for coaches who enjoy the time off to get some rest.
1959 — Football players received air transportation beyond what is permitted by NCAA rules.
Penalties: two-year probation, two-year television ban, one-year postseason ban. Athletes asked to walk instead.
1957 — Football players received monthly cash allowances from an outside foundation.
Penalties: two-year probation, two-year television ban, one-year postseason ban. Remember the TV ban wasn’t such a big of a deal 53 years ago, but would be now, although it wasn’t added to the punishment this time around.
Apparently, the NCAA doesn’t know how to police this problem, nor can they punish it appropriately, while USC doesn’t know how to improve their scandals.
Also posted on National Lampoon’s Splog