Following a multi-year investigation, the NCAA released it's findings on 6/10/2010 and accused USC of wrongdoings. USC disagreed with many of the "findings" and appealed some of the sanctions. USC did not dispute that some violations occurred. However, the Committee On Infractions (COI) attempted to implicate the University and make a mountain out of a mole hill to justify excessive and unwarranted penalties. In the process the NCAA may have made critical mistakes in the investigation, took numerous leaps of faith, appears to have broken their own rules and guidelines, and finally created several new precedents.
The following summarize why critical aspects of the Public Infractions Report (PIR) did not hold water and some of the sanctions should have been reduced following USC's hearing with the NCAA's Infractions Appeal Committee on 1/22/2010.
- The NCAA has the burden of proving allegations, and information must be credible, yet the COI based their findings regarding the assistant coach's supposed knowledge of the violations (by the football player) on the testimony of a convicted felon with a motive.
- NCAA staff appear to have made critical mistakes regarding the facts during the questioning of the accuser, may have been influenced by a critical piece of supposed evidence that may have been doctored, and McNair alleges serious NCAA misconduct, errors in appeal.
- The NCAA did not allow USC to attend the interview or cross examine the witness (against the NCAA's own rules).
- Regarding the critical accusation that an assistant coach knew about the primary infraction, the PIR states on page 4 "Further, the assistant football coach knew or should have known that student-athlete 1 and agency partners A and B were engaged in violations." The COI failed in their burden of proving that the coach knew about the violations, so they state he "should have known." But the Committee then proceeds to assume that he knew the accuser and knew about violations and did not disclose it, thus assuming facts not in evidence and fabricating additional charges based on that. If, as the report concludes he did not know but should have known, how can he be guilty of not disclosing something he didn't know?
- The COI fabricated the idea that the marketing agent was a representative of the University (when in fact the agent did employ high profile student athletes from another University) and they failed to inform the University of that conclusion.
- To justify the proposed sanctions, the PIR created new precedent without any clarification that high profile athletes require enhanced compliance, yet faulted the University for not meeting this previously non-existent and vague standard.
- The NCAA waved the one year waiting period for transfers, a punishment that has never been used before (made possible by the combination of the 2 year bowl ban and a recently effective rule).
- The NCAA argued that a booster giving a speech to recruits was an example of lack of institutional control, when logically the fact that USC terminated the activity during the period supports the opposite conclusion (that USC exercised control by terminating the activity).
- The fact that the NCAA needed to identify a window of over four years regarding the supposed cases of lack of institutional control logically makes the case weaker, not stronger.
- The NCAA argued that open practices (and granting sideline passes) were an issue and without precedent proposed USC close practices, yet offered no evidence to support the conclusion that it had any relationship with the infractions.
- The NCAA offered no logical justification or comparison between the scholarship limits proposed and prior comparable scholarship limit cases. How can violations by one student athlete proportionally result in 30 scholarship reductions? Further how can prior cases of penalties be reconciled with the proposed USC penalties? The following explanation by the NCAA fails to adequately answer those questions. See "Source)
The next question is why did the NCAA COI make this one-sided attempt to rewrite history and severely handicap USC's football program going forward? Only the Committee members can answer that. While USC had no motive in the primary student athlete infractions, in fact USC was the victim (losing two high profile athletes to the pros prematurely), there is a clear conflict of interest on the part of the Chair of the Committee (representing the University of Miami) and at least one other member (representing Notre Dame). USC has been recognized by unbiased popular media as the #1 source of NFL players of all time. Guess who the press generally identifies as #2 and #3? See Exhibit 1: NFL Pipeline USC vs. Miami and Exhibit 2: NFL Factory which includes this line - "When you have as many players as they [USC] have coming into the NFL at all positions, I don't think there is any way to really combat it" (since the NFL draft began in 1936, USC has had the most individuals drafted by any University). It's now clear that the COI members think they found a creative way for their Universities to combat USC's "notoriety." Keep in mind the respective student athlete was the last of 3 USC Heisman Trophy winners during a 4 year period.
USC is the number one college football program in history for producing NFL players and the COI did not find any major recruiting violations or cases of compensating student athletes by staff and/or boosters (the violations associated with comparable sanctions in prior cases). That is completely contradictory to a claim of lack of institutional control. The number of student athletes involved represents less than 1/2 of 1% of the student athletes during the time frame. Additionally, the PIR itself even includes the following statements.
- "In this case, USC had a thorough rules education program." (page 3)
- "The committee determined that the cooperation exhibited by the institution met its obligation under Bylaws 19.01.3.3 and 32.1.4." (page 56)
The following links and quotes speak for themselves (for those with an open mind, the time, and interest in reading the full story) regarding the NCAA's rulings and attempts to penalize the University and the innocent student athletes that had nothing to do with the events. Sadly, by reducing USC's scholarships, that may also result in a trickle down effect on a large number of completely unrelated future prospective US college student athletes who may not get the opportunity to earn a college education. The Pac-10 is also unfairly punished via losing the revenue for the banned bowl games. We are blessed in the United States to have a legal system with checks and balances that protects against unjust actions. As always, USC will Fight On!
- NCAA Ruling, Public Infractions Report (67 pages), and Press Conference Audio
- Appeals Committee Upholds Decision for Former Assistant Coach (4/29/2011)
- Todd McNair vs. NCAA (6/3/2011) - McNair has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA seeking damages for libel, slander, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious interference with contractual relations, breach of contract, negligence and declaratory relief.
- Rebuttal of Todd McNair (11/1/2010 - 36 pages), Appeal of Todd McNair (8/11/2010 - 85 pages), and Todd McNair's Response to the NCAA allegations (6/25/2010)
- Appeals committee upholds infractions decision 23 page report (5/26/2011)
- USC appeal affected by NCAA mistake by Dennis Dodd at CBSSports (5/28/2011)
- Frequently Asked Questions about the NCAA Enforcement Process
- "The information upon which violations are found must be credible, persuasive and of a nature that reasonably prudent persons would rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs."
- "The institution and involved individuals are advised of all witnesses and information upon which the staff intends to rely and has the right to interview those witnesses."
- "The burden of proving allegations rests with the NCAA."
- Principles of Institutional Control by the COI (6 pages)
- NCAA addresses Cam Newton's eligibility (12/1/2010) and Statement by NCAA President Mark Emmert on Cam Newton eligibility (12/2/2010). See also If The NCAA Is Right, Cecil Lied And SEC Cheated from SportsbyBrooks (12/2/2010), Ruling on Newton Is Drawing Criticism By Pete Thamel in the NY Times (12/2/2010), Cam Newton NCAA case gives USC an avenue for appeal by Bill Dwyre in the LA Times (12/10/2010), and Case comparison illustrates why NCAA must rework uneven bylaws by Andy Staples in SI (12/15/2010)
- NCAA statement on fairness of rules decisions (12/29/2010)
- NCAA teleconference concerning Crimson Tide infractions (6/11/2009)
- USC To Appeal, Todd Dickey (video), and 169 page response
- USC Official Response (5/26/2011)
- USC To Appeal (pdf) and Steven Sample letter to Trojan Family
- USC Files Appeal to NCAA Ruling (6/25/2010)
- Peristyle Podcast Episode 123 & 124 (6/24, 6/30) and NCAA Missteps on McNair, Page 2, and Page 3, as well as Exclusive: Investigation Illustrated (6/30/2010), McNair alleges serious NCAA misconduct, errors in appeal (8/17/2010), Talk about a 'troubled environment' (8/17/2010), NCAA ups ante against McNair on appeal (12/16/2010), and Going after the NCAA's "underbelly" (1/2/2011) from USCFootball.com - NCAA email response (6/25/2010) and Todd McNair appeals NCAA findings (8/17/2010) via ESPN
- Thoughts on USC Appeal (6/13/2010), Thursday Thought (6/17/2010), NCAA Ruling: Fact or Fiction (6/30/2010), NCAA Ruling: Boosters and Practices (7/12/2010) from WeAreSC.com
- NCAA Violates Rules in Todd McNair Appeal and New Phantom Finding (12/16/2010), NCAA Corruption in USC Reggie Bush, Auburn Cam Newton, and North Carolina Cases (12/5/2010), 10 Reasons the NCAA Should Drop Trojans' Second-Year Bowl Ban (11/19/2010), Trojans Sanction Appeal Is Rigged Like NCAA Sanctions (11/14/2010), 10 Reasons Why USC Football NCAA Sanctions Are Not Fair (7/14/2010), Is the NCAA Capable of Fair Treatment of Infractions or Sanctions? (7/2/2010), and Analyzing NCAA Hypocrisy: Root Cause and Solutions (6/28/2010) from Bleacher Report
- More on the (outrageous) NCAA sanctions against USC (6/13/2010) Cardinal (and Gold) Rule
- For USC, It Was a Contact Sport (7/26/2006) LA Times. Of particular relevance "McFoy and Malone worked at Ornstein's office in Santa Monica as part of an internship program that included UCLA tight end Marcedes Lewis" regarding Page 31 of the PIR - in 2005 "USC student-athletes and only USC student-athletes were hired for these positions. The circumstances surrounding the hiring of these student-athletes made sports marketers A and B, as well as their agency, representatives of the institution's athletics interests."
- Unequal justice for Trojans from NCAA? from OCR (5/31/2011) and Football sanctions since SMU case: Year-by-year from ESPN (2002)
Consider: USC received almost the same exact penalties that Alabama did in 2002 (two-year bowl ban, 21 scholarships) for a case in which the school's own boosters made payments to recruits. . . In other words, in the committee's eyes, USC's failure to monitor a player's relationship with those seeking to cash in on his future earnings is every bit as serious as Alabama's failure to monitor supporters trying to help secure future wins for their favorite team. . . You'd be hard-pressed to find precedent for a school hit so hard over activities by parties with no association to the university.Stewart Mandel (6/10/2010) With harsh USC penalties, NCAA sends warning to all elite programs
Here is an interesting contrast to chew on about the NCAA. Between 1993 and 1998, a woman named Kim Dunbar was an admitted Notre Dame booster who was convicted of embezzling herA's report makes an extraordinary assertion that they've never made before - and that is that high profile student athletes and their families require more scrutiny and compliance review than other students athletes. That assertion is both vague and hypocritical.Erik McKinney (6/17/2010) Thursday Thought
The NCAA through the actions of the COI broke its very own rule. The NCAA bylaws state that a scholarship player must not play in any games for one year after transferring from one Division 1A school to another Division 1A school. But the COI, in an unprecedented move, waved that rule for all juniors and seniors at USC, allowing them to transfer wherever they wished without penalty. That was an unnecessary and an undeserved punishment that has no other end, no other feasible objective other than dismantling the USC football program over this decade. It is a punishment that has never been levied on any other college sports program in the nation, despite far worse and more massive violations than those currently involving USC.Paul Peszko (6/17/2010) Did Lane Kiffin's Hiring Motivate the NCAA?
I am inclined to believe Coach Carroll on this. Coming out so publicly and so strongly in opposition to the NCAA means that if he were lying about it, the potential to blow up in his face is astronomical. If he refused to comment, or gave the typical "the past is past" line, then we could start to infer his guilt. . . The NCAA calls this "gross institutional oversight." I would call it an honest account of what happens on 99 percent of college campuses with football programs across the country. It is impossible for programs to monitor the goings on of players once they leave the practice field or facility. So when Carroll says he was surprised that Bush was taking aboram were unduly harsh. If the appeals committee takes a full and fair assessment of the facts, I believe they will also come to that conclusion and reduce USC's penalties.Ted Miller (6/25/2010) Opening the mailbag: Will USC win its appeal?
A little perspective. In 2002, Alabama was found guilty of knowingly allowing boosters to pay players to play football for the Crimson Tide over the course of two coaching regimes. The charges against USC's football program do not remotely compare. No pay-to-play, no serious recruiting violations, no boosters gone wild, a single football player. Yet the sanctions leveled against USC are more severe than those that Alabama received.The NCAA Inquisition TributeToTroy
The NCAA seemed to take issue with USC's open practices. Why? There is nothing in the rule book that states that open practices are against the rules. There is no rule that says that any athletic practices have to be closed to the public. There is no bylaw stating who can or cannot be on the sidelines at practice or the games. . . The NCAA already looks foolish with their high profile athletes demand high profile monitoring message...I mean is that in the bylaws as well? The NCAA bylaws themselves do not require "constant, heightened and specific vigilance" on one player over others.The NCAA has an Institutional Control Issue of Their Own (6/30/2010)
The idea that the word of a convicted felon, not subject to cross-examination and without corroboration, could convict USC offends any notion of fair play. . . consider also that Tim Floyd was not found guilty of anything in the NCAA's findings regarding the allegations surrounding O.J. Mayo. Not a single thing. . . Oh, and while we are discussing standards, does it strike anyone as peculiar that the chair of the Committee on Infractions that slammed USC is Paul Dee, the former athletic director at Miami? Dee was in charge of the Miami program when the Hurricanes' football team was hit with some of the most severe sanctions in NCAA history. Why is Dee, who presided over a cheating and scandalous program by NCAA standards, allowed to chair the Committee on Infractions, which sits in judgment of other programs?Jay Bilas (7/1/2010) Anyone lcome to the wonderful world of the NCAA.Joey Kaufman (12/1/2010) Quintessential NCAA in Cam Newton Ruling
Student athletes not only don't have the rights of professional players, they don't even have the rights of other college students, who are free to hold jobs and sell their services as they choose. And they don't even have the right to workers' compensation if injured. . . Despite this blatant bullying, few seem to recognize the NCAA for what it is: a monopoly in restraint of free-market trade. Or as Federal District Judge Juan Burciaga called it in a 1981 antitrust lawsuit, "a classic cartel."Allen Barra (12/9/2010) Whose Best Interests Does the NCAA Serve? in the Wall Street Journal
Memo to the NCAA: If you are going to carry on the hypocrisy, please approach some level of consistency in 2011 . . . Pryor should have just given the items to his mother to sell. But the 'we didn't know excuse' - that wasn't good enough for USC. The NCAA knows how to make a dollar, man. Why can't it make sense?Michael Smith (12/26/2010) Parting Shot: NCAA Hypocrisy
This has been the year when the NCAA has stopped being a traffic cop and turned into an arbitrary and capricious dictator. Think an insane Saddam Hussein at the height of his powers in Iraq. The NCAA is a totalitarian dictator, the rules are what the NCAA says the rules are. Even if, you know, honest logic dies in the process . . . We've reached a position in college athletics where there is no logic and no intelligent person can discern any element of legitimacy behind the NCAA's decrees.Clay Travis (12/28/2010) NCAA Bungles Ohio State Ruling Along With Entirety of 2010's Rulings
Pretty much all the people I've spoken to -- coaches, administrators and players -- see the NCAA as riddled with hypocrisy. It makes the rules up as it goes along and has grown tired of being called out on it.Bruce Feldman (12/29/2010) With Buckeyes, NCAA just keeps spinning
The agent issues of the past year at various schools have made USC's punishment in the Reggie Bush case look downright draconian. (North Carolina had an agent runner on staff as its associate head coach, for goodness' sake.) An NCAA committee will hear USC's appeal next month. Unless the Committee on Infractions is prepared to similarly hammer other programs, there is a good chance USC's punishment will be reduced . . . the Infractions Appeals Committee is well within its rights to deem a penalty excessive. If it does, it could give USC back some lost scholarships, but the most public way to lessen the severity of the punishment is to let USC play in the postseason.Andy Staples (12/29/2010) 2011 college football predictions
The NCAA appears to believe the rules do not apply to them. They are agenda-driven. They decide the outcome, as they did with USC, and then they put together whatever they need to reach that outcome.Joe Shell Jr. (1/2/2011) Going after the NCAA's "underbelly"
The reality is that the NCAA overreached with the penalties they put on USC in relation to the violas" (Cam Newton, Terrelle Pryor) in which the school paid little or no price, and that could be in the back of the minds of those on the Appeals Committee.Stewart Mandel (4/27/2011) What USC's sanctions mean for Ohio State, plus more Mailbag
In the past six months, it has gotten much more difficult for the NCAA to justify that USC's punishment fits its crime.Jon Wilner (5/20/2011) Another look at the Pac-12 football landscape
The uneven application of the rules is what is going to kill the NCAA one day.Amy Lamare (5/25/2011) Nc-enforcement-case/">Ignoring Case-Precedent: NCAA Appeals Decision in USC Enforcement Case
I believe USC was treated unfairly by the NCAA. I have yet to read a reasoned account -- from the media or from the NCAA -- that makes a convincing argument otherwise.Ted Miller (5/31/2011) Opening the mailbag: USC got what it deserved
I think this NCAA that we're currently involved with is so far out of touch with the integrity of the sport that it's just amazing.Bob Knight (6/7/2011) Bob Knight dubs NCAA as 'out of touch'
almost everyone who follows college sports acknowledges the following:
- The NCAA is Corrupt
- The NCAA Makes Up The Rules As It Goes Along
- The NCAA Is Serted from all established precedent of severity and, indeed, were based (as Dee conceded) on the punishment his own program had received 15 years earlier. This is simply not the way an organization can conduct itself if it wants to maintain any semblance of credibility.Amerigo Chattin (8/25/2011) The NCAA Must Vacate All Penalties Handed Down by Paul Dee and Start Over
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
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