USC asks the NCAA to revisit its scholarship sanctions in light of Penn State decision

USC athletic director Pat Haden has asked the NCAA to look at lessening USC’s scholarship sanctions that were imposed in 2010.

The move comes after the NCAA announced a similar move with Penn State. The NCAA gave the Nittany Lions back five scholarships beginning next season and will move the program back to 85 total scholarships by 2016. Last year, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against Penn State stemming form the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. The Nittany Lions also were slapped with a postseason ban, had to vacate 111 of Joe Paterno’s wins and pay a hefty fine.

"After learning of the NCAA's actions on Tuesday (Sept. 24) regarding Penn State and the lessening of the sanctions that were imposed on that institution, when viewed in the context of the events that have shaken intercollegiate athletics over the past year, we felt compelled to discuss USC's sanctions in a new light.,” Haden said in a statement released by the school. “As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases.”

Haden noted the NCAA credited Penn State with the progress it had made in athletics integrity and claimed the Trojans had made similar strides, but has seen no reduction in its penalties.

“Since the Committee on Infractions (COI) issued its sanctions in 2010, USC has been held up as a model and praised for its integrity and commitment to compliance, a fact often mentioned by the NCAA itself,” Haden said.

Haden said the NCAA has asked for more information and will review the university’s request to repeal some of the scholarship sanctions still plaguing the Trojans.

While I don’t disagree that USC has a claim here, the NCAA did create a slippery slope when it repealed some of Penn State’s sanctions. There was no doubt USC was going to cause a fuss – it would have been stunning if it hadn’t – but now every program that is slapped with sanctions is going to polish up its reputation and then want their penalties reduced citing Penn State and perhaps, now, USC.

This is yet another misstep by the NCAA. While the sanctions it levied against Penn State and USC were unpopular (and perhaps even unjust), they handed them down and needed to stick by them. Going back on them now just opens Pandora’s box.

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