Football season might be months away, but USC is already eliminated from contention to play in any postseason bowl or the inaugural Pac-12 championship game after the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee upheld all penalties against the Trojans.
“I am very disappointed, but I am not surprised,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said.
The penalties against USC include a two-year postseason bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. In the appeal, the Trojans requested that the penalties be reduced to a one-year postseason bowl ban, and the forfeiture of 15 scholarships over three years.
The Trojans will serve the second year of the two-year postseason bowl ban during the 2011 football season.
“I feel badly for our seniors who had two years of [postseason bowl bans], even though they had nothing to do with what went on,” Haden said.
Haden stated that USC would accept the penalties, and not sue the NCAA.
“We have decided to move on and make the most of our situation,” Haden said. “We disagree with the findings, but I do think that the [NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee] itself is fair-minded.”
Haden made it clear the university takes responsibility for the infractions committed by the football program.
“We have to look at ourselves in the mirror here,” Haden said. “We could have, and should have, done things better. We had a player [former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush] who knowingly did things wrong. We are not innocent here. We deserve some penalties, but it is the severity of the penalties that we think are unfair.”
Haden expects that the 2004 BCS National Championship will be stripped, but that the Trojans will remain AP national champions for that year.
Moving forward, Haden vowed to improve communication and relationship between the university and the NCAA.
The Trojans held a brief team meeting Thursday morning, with USC coach Lane Kiffin telling his players to be smart with their social media reactions to the decision of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee.
“We do not agree [with the findings], but we will deal with what we are dealt and move on,” junior quarterback Matt Barkley said.
Barkley was confident that the team, which went 8-5 last season, would improve.
“Ultimately, there have been a lot of changes that have been made from last year’s team to now in regards to the attitude that the majority of the guys have,” Barkley said. “I definitely think it will turn out better than it did last year.”