Kiffin, USC denied break
Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 9:06 pm
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NCAA on Thursday rejected Southern California’s appeal to reduce sanctions imposed on its storied football program, keeping in place some of the harshest penalties leveled against a school in a quarter-century.
USC must serve the second year of its two-year postseason ban this fall, making the Trojans ineligible for the first Pac-12 title game or a bowl game. USC also will lose 30 scholarships over the next three years, giving them just 15 available scholarships per season — 10 below the normal yearly limit — until 2015.
USC athletic director Pat Haden said he was “gravely disappointed” in the NCAA’s ruling.
“I can assure our student-athletes, coaches and fans that we made every possible argument — forcefully and vigorously — for modifying unjust penalties,” Haden said.
The Trojans endured a four-year NCAA investigation into illegal benefits for Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush before last year’s ruling.
School president Max Nikias believes the NCAA has harmed the credibility of its decision-making process.
“We are very concerned that the historical value of case precedent and the right to fair process in the NCAA adjudicative process, both in terms of the ability of an institution to defend itself or prove an abuse of discretion on appeal, have been substantially eroded,” Nikias said.
USC’s seniors also are still allowed to transfer to another school without sitting out a season, a sanction that coach Lane Kiffin has criticized as “free agency.” A few players left the Trojans after the sanctions were handed down last year, but most were backups unhappy with playing time.
“I am disappointed for our players, our fans and our staff that another bowl game and now a possible Pac-12 championship game has been taken away from them,” Kiffin said. “We have been operating with these sanctions for a year now and have felt their effects on multiple fronts. We will continue to execute the plan we have in place to make the most of the hand with which we have been dealt.
“I am proud of how our players have performed on the field and represented us off the field under very difficult and trying circumstances.”
Reacting to the NCAA’s decision, USC quarterback Matt Barkley tweeted, “Our team will embrace the challenge as one and be stronger for it. Times of adversity are special opportunities to Fight On!”
Published in The Messenger 5.26.11