Saturday, February 20, 2010
USC makes its case, now NCAA will decide its fate
By Ted Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- And after three days, they rested. Their case.
USC's hearing before the NCAA infractions committee ended at 6:30 p.m., local time, Saturday, after nine hours of deliberation.
A hotel worker strained to roll away an overloaded cart of documents that included seven boxes and two massive bound folders that contained USC's responses to allegations of NCAA violations for the football and basketball programs.
To be accurate, USC was done -- football coach Lane Kiffin quickly said goodbye and raced to a town car so he could catch a flight back to L.A. -- but the infractions committee's work continued into the evening.
USC's ultimate fate still requires a verdict, which will require further deliberation for the infraction committee at another location. The ultimate ruling won't be made public until a final report is completed. That typically takes six to 10 weeks.
NCAA officials refused to comment afterwards, and USC officials weren't much more forthcoming.
"I can't even say no comment on no comment," USC president Steven Sample joked with reporters, then added. "It will come out. It will be great."
Said USC spokesperson James Grant, "We've been asked by the chairman of the committee not to discuss the proceedings. But we do want to thank the committee and NCAA staff and everyone involved for these proceedings and we are pleased we were able to present our side of the events and we look forward to an outcome and to moving on."
The first two days of the hearings focused on football, with Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair seemingly spending the most time being questioned. McNair reportedly was aware of a relationship between former running back Reggie Bush and a pair of aspiring agents who allegedly provided him with cash and gifts that would break NCAA rules against athletes receiving "extra benefits."
Basketball was the subject on Saturday, with former Trojans coach Tim Floyd appearing before the committee.
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported in May of 2008 that former basketball player O.J. Mayo accepted cash and gifts -- extra benefits -- from Rodney Guillory, who was connected to Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management. Moreover, Floyd was alleged to have provided a $1,000 cash payment to help steer Mayo to USC, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.
"We got the opportunity to present our side of the case," said one of Floyd's lawyers, Jim Darnell.
USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.
However USC chose to contest the allegation against the football program, its ultimate goal is to overcome the perception of a lack of institutional control, which could result in significant sanctions, including scholarship reductions, TV and postseason bans, recruiting restrictions and probation.
Moreover, if USC is found guilty of major violations, the NCAA also could rule that the Trojans are "repeat violators." Per NCAA rules, "An institution shall be considered a 'repeat' violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty."
The athletic program was last sanctioned in August of 2001, so if the Bush allegations are found to be major violations, they would fall within that time frame.
So a lot is at stake.
David Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement, wouldn't discuss any details of the case but he admitted the hearings were "the longest in my 11 years" as an NCAA enforcement officer.
USC athletic director Mike Garrett's only comment afterwards probably reflected sentiments shared by all participants on both sides of the conference room.
"I'm glad it's over," Garrett said.
Of course, it won't be over until the NCAA finally sings.