January 04, 2010
Over the weekend, USC's basketball program issued a self-imposed penalty stemming from the bizarre recruitment of prep star O.J. Mayo. It was a saga that was fishy from the beginning (remember how Mayo said that he was the one who called Tim Floyd and not the other way around?) and one that has left a huge stain on the school's athletic program.
By imposing major sanctions on itself, USC hopes to avoid the wrath of the NCAA. The governing body of college athletics will still complete its investigation, but is expected to go along with USC's recommendations.
I don't know whether a one-year ban from all postseason tournaments, a forfeiture of records and paying back money earned during an NCAA tournament run is a fitting punishment for USC. (Click here for opinions on that.) But I know that USC shouldn't have the privilege of deciding whether it is or not.
The program that acted irresponsibly is now being trusted to have acted responsibly? Why should college teams get to dictate their own punishments? The terms weren't made because they're what USC thought it deserved, they were made because they were what USC thought the NCAA thought it deserved.
This whole concept of self-punishment seems like some sort of new age parenting method. USC didn't violate a USC rule, it violated an NCAA rule. Therefore, the NCAA should be the one handing down the penalties.
Sure, the NCAA will finish its investigation, but will it be as diligent as it would have been before? Will investigators be as willing to go the extra mile to look into all allegations? If it's determined that USC's self-imposed punishment seems good enough, why would they bother?