Last Wednesday found many Trojans hoping that, as in the previous weeks, media outlets ominously reporting the impending NCAA sanctions were misinformed. This time, however, the NCAA didn’t see its shadow and retreat for another six weeks.
USC was steamrolled by sanctions that include a two-year bowl ban, loss of 30 scholarships and forfeiture of victories won during Reggie Bush’s sullied tenure.
USC has already announced plans to appeal the findings, as fans question the legitimacy of punishing a new administration so stridently for the former one’s mistakes. But whether the appeal proves fruitful, there is more to be taken away from this situation than simple indignation.
Regardless of qualms about the severity of the sanctions, the fact remains that our athletic program has strayed into ethically troubling areas. It’s time for administrators to enforce a strict new regimen and use this setback as a chance to reform the image of Trojan sports into an untarnished one.
As the football program moves into a transitional period with former coach Pete Carroll’s departure and coach Lane Kiffin’s premiere season fast approaching, we have a chance to set a precedent of policing ourselves on all levels — from the players to the leadership of the athletic department.
USC supporters have proven themselves to be fair-weather fans in the past. Now is not the time to question the refundability of tickets or lament a collapsing colossus. The only way to prove that our touted “Fight on!” slogan is appropriate is to support our athletic program as enthusiastically as we did when we were on top.
Rather than debate the sanctions, the athletic department needs to rebuild from the bottom up — reviving its fan base, supporting its players and cleaning up its act.