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Does USC basketball have anything to worry about on Friday?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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As USC fans nervously await word on how stiff a punishment the NCAA will give their football program on Friday, it's probably a good time to remind the Trojans they have another program on the chopping block.

You remember your basketball program, don't you?

The lingering question facing USC basketball is whether the NCAA can possibly penalize the Trojans further than what they already did themselves for violations involving the recruitment of O.J. Mayo. USC already offered up its basketball program as a sacrificial lamb, forcing Tim Floyd's resignation last year and then removing itself from postseason consideration last season and accepting a self-imposed reduction of scholarships.

It's always difficult to predict how the NCAA will react in situations like this, but the actions of UTEP athletic director Bob Stull suggest the worst may already be behind the Trojans.

UTEP probably wouldn't have hired Floyd earlier this spring without some assurance that he was unlikely to get hit too hard by the NCAA, a theory bolstered by Stoll insisting earlier this week that it's "unlikely" the allegations against his new coach will stick. Furthermore, UTEP has already scheduled a teleconference with Floyd for Monday, another sure sign school officials are sincere in suggesting he won't be implicated.

It was certainly difficult for USC to find out it had no hope of an NCAA tournament berth in January after bolting to a 10-4 start, but Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill said in retrospect the self-imposed sanctions were the right decision.

"Looking back on it, it's obvious to me that sanctioning ourselves was a very credible and positive thing to do," O'Neill told the Orange County Register last week. "We got ahead of the curve. Had we let this thing drag for another year ... who knows what would have happened? So we're sitting here with our fingers crossed, hoping for the best."

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