Trojans players appear unfazed

No discernible pall hung over Heritage Hall on Monday as USC administrators returned to campus after a three-day appearance in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

USC, however, is bracing for the committee’s decision about possible sanctions, which is expected to be delivered in six to 10 weeks.

Trojans football players seemed unworried before the hearing and they remained so Monday.

Quarterback Matt Barkley, who is throwing again after undergoing wrist surgery in January, said he was more concerned about getting ready for the start of spring practice March 30.

The possibility of sanctions that could include a ban on bowl appearances did not faze the sophomore.

“It would stink, but I’m not going to worry about it right now,” Barkley said.

Nor is sophomore wide receiver Brice Butler, who said any penalties imposed on the Trojans would not interrupt the goal of most players of preparing for the NFL.

“We can still be the most respected team and go out and beat everybody,” Butler said.

That became the USC basketball team’s goal after the school imposed sanctions against the program in January.

The Trojans are 16-10 overall and 8-6 and in third place in the Pacific 10 Conference, only 1 1/2 games behind leader California with four games to play.

The NCAA hearing affected the basketball team last week during its trip to play Washington and Washington State.

Assistants Bob Cantu and Phil Johnson were absent from both games to appear at the hearing.

After the Trojans defeated Washington on Thursday, Coach Kevin O’Neill remained in Seattle to be on a conference call with the committee.

O’Neill told his players about the call, but, under orders from committee Chairman Paul Dee, he was unable to comment. The call delayed O’Neill from joining the Trojans until Friday night, so the team did not go through its usual routine, which typically includes a light shoot-around and a walk-through, guard Dwight Lewis said.

The Trojans performed that routine Saturday morning, Lewis said, but lost in the afternoon against Washington State in one of its worst offensive performances of the season.

“It was different, but I don’t think it affected us in the game,” Lewis said of the coaching absences. “It had nothing to do with who was there or who wasn’t there.”