NCAA Football: USC banned from bowl games for two seasons, wins vacated

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Friday, June 11, 2010

The Los Angeles Coliseum, home stadium for the USC football team.

The University of Southern California's football team was heavily penalized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) yesterday due to several major rules violations involving former player and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. The team was banned from participating in all NCAA bowl games for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, as well as was vacated of all wins during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The team will likely also be stripped of their national title from the 2004 season and will lose ten football scholarships per year for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.

The NCAA also criticized the university for ineffective monitoring of its student-athletes. "The general campus environment surrounding the violations troubled the committee. At least at the time of the football violations, there was relatively little effective monitoring of, among others, football locker rooms and sidelines, and there existed a general post-game locker room environment that made compliance efforts difficult," said part of the NCAA's report.

The rules violations, which were investigated by the NCAA over a four-year period, involved the team's alleged "improper benefits," given to Bush, as well as Bush's contact with an agent, which is illegal under NCAA rules until a player has left the sports program. It is also possible that this will result in the loss of Bush's Heisman Trophy. The NCAA report ordered USC to not be in contact with Bush for the current time.

"We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report," stated Todd Dickey, the senior vice president of administration at USC.

Meanwhile, Reggie Bush (who now plays for the NFL's New Orleans Saints) also released a statement. "I am disappointed by the decision and disagree with the NCAA's findings. If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on making a positive impact for the University and for the community where I live," said Bush. Bush denies all of the allegations brought against him and the university by the NCAA.

The report also included punishments for the men's basketball team, which was accused of violating the NCAA's recruiting policy on former player O.J. Mayo. The women's tennis team was also fined for allowing an unidentified student to use a university-owned credit card to place $7,000 in unauthorized phone calls.