Pete Carroll said he would not have left USC if he had known sanctions were coming

Graham Watson
SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 26: of the USC Trojans against the Boston College Eagles during the 2009 Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park on December 26, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Pete Carroll is just a few months removed from winning the Super Bowl as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, but as USC nears the end of its four-year NCAA sanction period, Carroll, the Trojans former coach, lamented about leaving the program before the sanctions were announced.

Carroll took the Seattle job in January 2010, five months before the NCAA slapped the Trojans with sanctions so harsh they will continue to cripple the program even after they expire on June 10.

"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from," Carroll told the L.A. Times. " … The NCAA came back at the university … 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years.

"Had we known that that was imminent … I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem."

The NCAA found that star running back Reggie Bush and his family had received cash and benefits from sports promoters while Bush was with the Trojans in 2004 and 2005. Bush was stripped of his 2005 Heisman and USC had to vacate wins, including a BCS National Championship.

The university was ultimately cited for lack of institutional control, hit with a two-year postseason ban and lost 30 scholarships over a three-year period. Carroll has been steadfast in his criticism of the NCAA and the way it treated USC, which was given one of the harshest penalties in NCAA history.

USC athletics director Pat Haden said there are no hard feelings toward Carroll among the USC family and that he hopes the college football world will regard Carroll as one of the greatest college coaches ever. With his Super Bowl win, Carroll became just the third coach ever to win a national title and a Super Bowl.

Haden, like Carroll, has always maintained opposition for the depth of sanctions USC received.

"What I hope comes out of this is that this never happens to a university again," Carroll told the paper. "I think it was extraordinarily overdone, an overreaction."

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter