Far-reaching problems with NCAA


After sitting atop the college football world for as long as I can remember, the NCAA Infractions Committee finally laid down the gauntlet on the USC athletics program.

It was like waiting for former Heisman-winning running back Reggie Bush to score a touchdown — you knew it was coming but you weren’t sure when it would exactly happen.

And then it happened.

For all those times Bush imposed his will on helpless linebackers and stifled secondaries, the NCAA has now imposed its will on the USC athletics program — in a big way.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the sanctions.  Maybe the Lakers winning their 16th NBA championship in franchise history diverted some of the attention off the Trojans, but the reality is that the sanctions are still set in stone.

But were the sanctions justifiable and fair?

You might be thinking, “What is the difference between the two?”

Well, just is the root of the word justifiable; the definition means “in accordance with standards or requirements.”

So, in accordance with NCAA rules, the Trojans did violate them — and if you break rules, there is bound to be some consequence.  I agree the punishment handed down on the athletics program was justifiable.

But fair?

I always hear that life isn’t always fair — and I believe that wholeheartedly.  I’ve always wondered why some people have unbelievable athletic talent and I don’t.  It’s like watching Kobe Bryant swish double-clutch, off-balance, fade away 30-foot jump shots — oh, the poor defender,  because that is not fair.

And the sanctions handed down on USC were definitely not fair.

It is a broken system that the NCAA should be responsible for.  ESPN ranks high school athletes like they are future superstars; they glorify these student-athletes to be the next LeBron James and televise games like they are professional athletes.  To put it plain and simple, you might as well pay these ordinary high school student-athletes if you’re giving them extraordinary star treatment.

And high school is only the beginning.  College athletes are showered with attention by the media, fans and, yes, the students — in a sense, they are idols.  And college is just a stepping stone, or roadblock, for some to the professional level — or that is where most athletes probably think they will be in a couple years (that is another problem in itself).

That is where sports agencies and marketers come into the picture.  You have these businessmen waving wads of Benjamins, offering irresistible deals and giving those seems-too-good-to-betrue speeches.  What do you think happens?

Yes, I’d take it too.

The hype and the attention undoubtedly are ingrained into players’ heads.  Heck, if I was shown on television every weekend, rated the No. 5 player overall in the 2012 class and talked about almost nightly on Sportscenter, you can bet that would inflate my ego.

And after collegiate sports, that means taking my game to the professional level — and if I’m hyped that much by the media, you can count it a sure thing that I’ll be playing for the next 15 or 20 years.

But showing college games on national television brings in revenue for the NCAA and so does selling collegiate apparel.  Sure, the NCAA took away all victories in which Bush participated but did they give back the money they earned when he was the face of college football?

I didn’t think so.

And to punish new freshmen recruits for what?

Well, the NCAA essentially placed the blame for the transgressions of another former player on them — and they will have no choice but to endure the punishment for someone else’s cardinal (and gold) sins.

The freshman had no association with Bush and, last time I checked, why should other people be accountable for the actions of somebody else who broke the rules?

It’s like handing out a punishment to an innocent bystander accused of stealing.  In both cases, it’s the wrong place at the wrong time.

Unfortunately, the sanctions are set in stone — USC has said it will appeal, but who knows what will happen after?

A variety of time-taking procedures will be set into motion as soon as the appeal is released, and we really don’t know how long it will take.

For USC football, a turbulent season transitioned into an even more turbulent offseason.  An overall record of 9-4 and a trip to the Emerald Bowl were OK as a consolation prize — or maybe not — but those certainly aren’t expectations the city, the school, or the fans envisioned.

Sometimes, you have to deal with what life gives you whether it be just or unjust — fair or unfair.

Despite all this, the NCAA should take a hard, long look at themselves in the mirror and examine their own blemishes because there are definitely a lot of them.  To say they don’t have any problems to worry about would be a crime — and that would definitely be unjust and unfair.

“In the Zone” runs every other Wednesday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Trevor at

trevor.wong@usc.edu