A small silver lining for USC: its basketball program got off easy

It will be lost amid USC fans' fury over the surprisingly harsh penalties its football program received, but there was one small shred of good news for the Trojans in Thursday's 67-page NCAA report.

At least the basketball program emerged mostly unscathed.

USC hoops apparently satisfied the NCAA's thirst for blood last season when it removed itself from postseason contention, vacated all regular season wins from the 2007-08 season and accepted a reduction in scholarships. The NCAA only added a few more minor penalties in the wake of its investigation into violations involving O.J. Mayo's recruitment.

• Four years probation from June 10, 2010 through June 9, 2014.

• The program must also vacate all postseason wins and conference tournament wins during the 2007-08 season.

• Disassociation with Mayo and Rodney Guillory, his representative who provided extra benefits. That means USC cannot accept any financial or recruiting assistance from either individual and must make sure neither provide players with any extra benefits.

• The prohibition of all non-university personnel, including boosters, from traveling on men's basketball charters, attending practices, participating or donating to camps or accessing locker rooms before during or after games. (This excludes media, family members and other approved by the compliance department).

The NCAA's investigation into the extra benefits Mayo received from Guillory didn't turn up anything we didn't already know. From August 2006 to May 2008, Guillory provided thousands of dollars worth of cash, lodging, merchandise, meals, automobile transportation and airline tickets to Mayo, much of which the NCAA felt Tim Floyd and his staff should have been aware of.

The prevailing notion when USC announced its self-imposed basketball sanctions was that the school was sacrificing its hoops program in hopes the NCAA might spare the football team from heavy penalties.Clearly that didn't happen, but the sanctions were still the right decision.

Had USC's basketball not taken a hit in a rebuilding season last year, it might have been more than a blip on the radar in Thursday's NCAA report.

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