USC Athletic Director Pat Haden insists the chapter has been closed.
There won’t be a lawsuit. There won’t be any further action taken against the NCAA after it rejected the Trojans’ appeal of sanctions levied against the football program in June 2010, much to the chagrin of many alumni, boosters and fans.
“We’re not idiots,” Haden told the Daily Trojan on Friday. “The university has looked at every alternative. Period.”
Haden’s utterance of such words wasn’t the first in the months following the NCAA Committee on Infractions rejection of USC’s appeal in May, but unrest and disappointment among a variety of fans have persisted.
“It just feels like they’re kissing [the NCAA’s] butts a little bit and hoping it will all go away,” said Vic Orly, a 1994 USC graduate and six-year season ticket holder. “I think they really need to take a stance.”
The university, however, has ruled out the idea of a lawsuit.
“The university’s mission is best served by moving forward at this time, without pursuing further redress,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement Wednesday. “We ask that the Trojan Family offer its utmost support to the student-athletes and coaches of the Trojan football team, confident that USC’s commitment to the highest level of excellence in academics and athletics will not waver in the coming years.”
Orly, along with Amy Lamare, a 1991 graduate who runs the website Gridiron Goddess, launched an online petition Saturday night, asking for the “cancelation of sanctions against USC.”
The petition, which went viral at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, accumulated 1,248 signatures by noon Monday. Citing Paul Dee’s role as chairman of the Committee on Infractions during the USC hearing, the petition asks for the sanctions to be “dropped without delay whatsoever.”
“Hopefully they appeal the sanctions,” said Orly, who remains hopeful the petition can garner upward to 10,000 online signatures. “That’s the ultimate goal. Get rid of the bowl ban for this year, because this is unfair to our current players.”
The petition comes in the wake of a recent Yahoo! Sports report centering on a University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who had been sentenced to federal prison for 20 years on June 7 for his involvement in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
Shapiro supplied thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 Miami student-athletes, according to the report.
What has struck a chord among fans, however, is that Dee also served as the athletic director at Miami from 1993 to 2008.
“We were incensed, because he’s handing down infractions to USC that look like a parking ticket compared to what was happening at Miami at that exact time,” Lamare said. “He had it in for USC and I don’t think that’s just conjecture.”
The alleged violations, stemming from Shapiro’s involvement with the program, were said to have occurred from 2002 to 2010 — years primarily when Dee headed the school’s athletic programs.
“If the allegations prove true, the words irony and hypocrisy don’t seem to go far enough,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told the Los Angeles Times last week.
Irritated with Dee’s involvement in the USC case, a number of fans have expressed disappointment with an inactivity from the university’s athletic department.
Because of a perceived conflict of interest with Dee placed on the COI, Orly and Lamare believe USC should either ask the NCAA to reopen the case or file a lawsuit altogether.
“It’s not that we didn’t do things wrong and act against the rules, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Lamare said.
Even with more than 2,000 online signatures, Orly and Lamare — although acknowledging the near-impossible odds of NCAA President Mark Emmert listening to an assembly of bitter USC alumni, fans and students — hope, at least, to raise awareness of USC’s ill-treatment from the infractions committee, namely Dee.
“One thing that infuriates me is that, outside of the Pac-12, nobody really knows what happened with USC,” Lamare said. “They think this was a pay-for-play scandal. They really forget it was one player and one agent trying to lure him away. That has nothing to do with a competitive advantage.”
In Yahoo! Sports’ report, among the 72 Miami players identified as having received extra benefits, several had received them from Shapiro while being recruited out of high school, gaining access to cars, VIP clubs and his personal yacht.
Because Dee oversaw the Hurricanes’ program during this time period, Lamare and Orly argue that Dee’s assertion that USC “should have known” should apply to his run at Miami as well.
“Our case just came at the wrong time,” Lamare said. “We had this high-flying program for a number of years that people were jealous of. We laughed at Mike Garrett when he said that, but it’s kind of true.”