The suspense is finally over.
The NCAA Infractions Committee delivered its verdict on USC Thursday after its four-year investigation concerning the school’s alleged football and basketball-related violations.
The 67-page report the NCAA compiled and released specifically mentions Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and one-and-done prep star O.J. Mayo.
The USC football program received a two-year bowl ban and a loss of football scholarships — 30 scholarships over a three-year period, 10 annually — and will be put on four years’ probation. With its ban from postseason play, USC becomes the first Football Bowl Subdivision school to receive this punishment since Alabama served a two-year ban that ended in 2003.
Bush was also found ineligible to play beginning in December 2004. The star running back was the subject of controversy after he left the football program in 2006. His dealings with sports marketers Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels were investigated by the NCAA, Pac-10 and even the FBI. USC has been ordered to forfeit every victory that Bush participated in while ineligible — this includes the BCS championship game in which USC beat Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2005 as well as the 12 games won during Bush’s historic Heisman-winning season in 2005, which ended in a loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl.
“I have a great love for the University of Southern California and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players,” Bush said in a statement.
If the NCAA rulings stand and Bush remains ineligible in all games following December 2004, he may have to revoke his Heisman Trophy as well.
Though coach Lane Kiffin had instituted a new practice policy limiting the amount of people allowed to watch practice, the NCAA has now prohibited all non-university personnel, except media and a few others, to attend practices and camps, and stand on the sidelines during games.
USC managed to avoid punishment that would have imposed a television ban on the football team; though such a ban was discussed, the NCAA found the sanctions imposed “respond to the nature of violations and the level of institutional responsibility.”
The report described the Trojan football program’s “lack of institutional control”; the basketball program and women’s tennis team wered also cited in the report.
The NCAA did not take any further action against the basketball program. Earlier this year, the university self-imposed sanctions on the basketball team, banning the team from postseason play and reducing the number of scholarships for the next two years. The Trojans also forfeited all their victories from the 2007-2008 season in which Mayo played at the school.
The women’s tennis team was cited for unauthorized long-distance calls a former player made but the NCAA accepted USC’s agreement to vacate all wins from November 2006 to May 2009.
The university has announced plans to appeal the NCAA’s findings.