USC officials, headed by athletic director Pat Haden, will appeal to the NCAA Infractions Appeal Committee on Saturday in Indianapolis.
President C. L. Max Nikias, Vice President for Athletic Compliance David Roberts and the university’s lawyers will join Haden.
The NCAA cited USC for “a lack of institutional control” in June, the verdict coming after a four-year investigation.
The ruling came after the NCAA determined that Reggie Bush, a Heisman-trophy winning running back from 2003-2005, and O.J. Mayo, a standout shooting guard who attended USC for the 2007-2008 season, received improper benefits.
The NCAA put USC on probation for four years. The football program got a two-year bowl ban, a reduction of 30 scholarships over three seasons and was forced to vacate 14 victories in which Bush participated after he started receiving benefits.
The USC basketball program imposed a one-year postseason ban on itself before the ruling, so the NCAA took no further action against it.
USC wants Haden and company to request that parts of the football team’s punishment be cut in half. They want the two-year bowl ban to be cut to one and the loss of 30 scholarships to be reduced to 15. The Trojans, who finished 8-5 in 2010, already served the first year of the postseason ban.
USC will not dispute other parts of the NCAA punishment, which include returning Bush’s replica Heisman trophy, taking down any image of Bush or Mayo around campus and the vacation of 14 wins in football.
If USC’s appeal is successful, the Trojans could be eligible for a bowl game at the end of the upcoming season and will lose only five scholarships per season over the next three years.
Haden has said the University’s primary goal is to recover some of the lost scholarships, according to ESPN.
USC must demonstrate that the punishment was excessive to the point that it “constitutes an abuse of discretion” by the NCAA, rather than that the punishment was wrong according to the evidence. The “abuse of discretion” requirement, which makes it much harder to win an appeal, has been in place since the NCAA changed its bylaws in 2008. Since that time, only one appeal out of 11 has been successful.
Because of the controversial rulings made by the NCAA in favor of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, however, USC might still have a shot at winning the appeal.
But the NCAA released statements last month emphasizing that none of the rulings have anything to do with one another, which means the Newton or Pryor rulings might not technically be taken into account in deciding USC’s appeal.
It is unclear when the results of the appeal will be announced.