Well, that was exhausting.
Five years, one month and six days later, and the final chapter to the Reggie Bush era officially closed Thursday morning with the NCAA once again giving USC the cold shoulder, announcing the school’s appeal of last June’s sanctions had been denied.
And it’s about time.
For a case dating back to early 2006, when James Blunt songs were actually played on radio stations, it had become all too tiresome to cipher through stories repeatedly littered with the words “infractions,” “sanctions” and “postseason ban.”
No doubt, following the five-year ordeal, it’s time for USC to move on, no matter how unprecedented, how unwarranted the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ decision was last year regarding USC (a loss of 30 scholarships over three seasons, a two-year postseason bowl ban).
Granted, the outcome was unquestionably unfair, but at this point, nothing is going to change. It’s time to put “Sanctionsgate” in the rearview mirror, time to quit the COI bashing, time to look toward the future.
“We’ll deal with what we’re dealt,” junior quarterback Matt Barkley told a group of reporters last week.
Atop the wish list for many disgruntled fans is a lawsuit against the NCAA, a way to seek damages, a way to expose the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the governing body of college athletics.
Despite of such a possibility, school officials insist they won’t exercise legal action, not now or at any point in the immediate future.
“The university has considered all the alternatives,” Athletic Director Pat Haden said Thursday. “We are not going to do that. We have decided to kind of move on.”
Suffice to say, not everyone welcomes such a mindset.
“What’s this WE business?” said one fan on the USC message board, Fighton247.com. “[Haden] should say “I” because the Trojan fanbase and I’m sure a large number of the alumni want to keep FIGHTING ON!!!”
But a lawsuit is unquestionably farfetched.
For starters, there is no technical “NCAA.” The organization is complex and composed of a litany of subcommittees, begging the question as to who you actually sue. The enforcement staff? The ones who initially uncovered the findings. The COI? The appeals committee? (The five-member group that ruled the sanctions were acceptable). Or for good measure, NCAA President Mark Emmert?
But all are separate entities (the NCAA president is not responsible for enforcement). In short, putting a lawsuit together is complex.
And who is going to file such a lawsuit? The university? The Board of Trustees? The athletic department? The boosters?
I’m not a legal expert. I can’t tell you that if USC was able to sue the NCAA what the odds of success would be, or whether it’d be practical at all. It’d surely be unprecedented, unheard of in modern-day college athletics. Think about it: a member institution suing a non-profit organization it is a voluntary member of.
And if successful, it’d have the impact to transform the sport 180 degrees. We know that much.
Either way, it’s not on the horizon, and maybe that’s OK.
Call it appeasement, call it raising the white flag, but it is quite possible that after five years, it’s time to turn the page and begin a new chapter.
The initial violations stemming from Bush’s ineligibility date back to 2004 when Barkley and others were in middle school, learning long division and signing up for Pop Warner leagues. And for the next three seasons — potentially even longer — they, along with the entire program, will feel the impact of scholarships restrictions and bowl bans.
So why drag it out?
Now that the Trojans won’t be able to feature more than 75 scholarship players for the 2012, 2013 or 2014 seasons or partake in a bowl game come December, as losing the appeal guarantees the initial sanctions will no longer be altered, the only thing left the program stands to gain is monetary benefit.
And considering the distractions this ordeal has caused and the potential it has to detract from the university’s success in the academic realm, it does pose the question as to whether this is an avenue worthy of pursuit.
“I think we need to have a better relationship with the NCAA,” Haden said Thursday.
Considering how the dominoes have fallen over the past year, maybe Haden’s right: It’s time to begin anew.
“The 19th Hole” runs every other Wednesday. To comment on this article, email Joey at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit dailytrojan.com.