Facebook revolt in motion against basketball sanctions
Last week USC received the worst publicity from a former Trojan named O.J. since People V. Simpson.
In response to mounting scrutiny surrounding the O.J. Mayo investigation, Athletic Director Mike Garrett imposed a preemptive strike and penalized the universityâs basketball program in hopes of alleviating potential NCAA sanctions. Garrettâs forced apology includes several recruiting restrictions, reimbursement of money to the NCAA for last yearâs tournament bid, loss of scholarships, forfeit of all 21 wins Mayo helped earn over the 2007-08 season, and, most frustrating for the programâs three seniors, a ban on all post-season play for this yearâs squad â including the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments.
However, one group of students has rallied against what it sees as an injustice and taken it upon itself to amend the sanctions decreed to the basketball team.
The âLet Them Playâ movement has organized t-shirt sales, a university petition and a Jan. 21 rally in the hopes of persuading the athletic department to reconsider the teamâs post-season probation.
âThese sanctions are unfair to the current coaching staff, players, and most of all, the students,â reads the âLet Them Playâ Facebook group, nearly 3,000 strong just a week after Garrettâs announcement. Â âIt is on us as Trojans to show our support of USC Basketball to the NCAA and [Athletic Director] Mike Garrett so that they will let SC Basketball play!â
USC student petitions have had success in the past.
In 2004, Robbie Ellison collected over 1,000 student signatures to entice ESPN College Gameday to campus for the first time in the showâs 11 year history.
However, persuading Garrett to reach down and pull the basketball program out from under the bus may present a more significant challenge.
If âLet Them Playâ hopes to put serious pressure on Garrett and the athletic department, the group will need the support of student organizations, student government and probably a few more Facebook friends.
Then again, with slogans like âHold the Mayoâ and âFight the Man On,â âLet Them Playâ shouldnât have much trouble raising support as the season wares closer to an end and, hopefully for the group, tournament play.