The NCAA finally answered many of the questions that were on the minds of college football fans when it announced major sanctions against USC’s athletic program Thursday. But more than a few remain. Here are a few answers:
Is USC going to take these penalties without a fight?
Hardly. Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration, said in a statement that the school “sharply” disagreed with many of the findings, that the penalties were “too severe,” and that USC would appeal. Football Coach Lane Kiffin echoed the battle cry.
Schools have not had great success winning appeals recently, but that will hardly deter USC, which believes the punishment was over the top. A few hours after the NCAA revealed its findings, the school strategically released its December 2009 Response to the NCAA. The 169-page document is a detailed counter-punch to the NCAA enforcement staff’s findings, and will form the backbone of its appeal.
Are Trojans players going to bail for other schools?
NCAA rules stipulate that athletes with two years of eligibility remaining can transfer without having to sit out a year if an imposed postseason ban covers two years. Coaches from other schools also can recruit them as long as they don’t do something really wacky — like wait for players outside classes.
But don’t expect to see Rick Neuheisel or Mack Brown handing out leaflets on campus near Tommy Trojan. A mass exodus, or even a small one, is unlikely. There might be a few players, already unhappy about playing time or other issues, who could use the situation for a new start with hopes for a happier finish. Most, though, sound as if they are committed to finishing their college careers at and graduating from USC.
Kiffin isn’t fretting.
“If somebody wants to leave the best place in the country to play football,” he said, “we won’t stop ‘em.”
How about those recruits? Are they still coming?
Probably. If a player signs a national letter of intent but decides to transfer he must sit out a season before becoming eligible to play at another Football Bowl Subdivision school.
Kiffin is not concerned about recruits asking to opt out.
“We’ve had a contact with a number of our signees today, a number of the families, and have had great response from them,” Kiffin said.
Is USC’s Hawaii trip aloha?
The Trojans’ two-year bowl ban also includes a stipulation that it cannot, “take advantage of the exceptions to the limit in the number of football contests,” that are provided in NCAA bylaws.
So USC has a potential problem. The Trojans are scheduled to play 13 games this season, rather than the typical 12, because teams get an exception for traveling to Hawaii or Alaska. USC is scheduled to open the season on Sept. 2 at Honolulu. USC officials are expected to discuss their options Friday.
What is USC’s official response?
USC December 2009 Response to the NCAA can be found at: https://www.usctrojans.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/061010aao.html