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Question of the day: Were the penalties against USC too light, too severe or just right? [Updated]

June 10, 2010 |  1:47 pm

Reporters from around the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they're wrong.

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

My first thought: C’mon, get real. Los Angeles doesn’t even have a NFL team, so is it realistic to think that Reggie Bush would not be getting a little scratch from an agent? (Call me cynical.)

Then you read the NCAA report that states that violations occurred over four years, were committed by three teams (football, men’s hoops and women’s tennis) and that “the findings … include a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.”

Gulp. That sounds an awful lot like an athletic program determined to skirt the rules – or at least turn a blind eye. So, yes, although the punishment seems overly harsh, I’ll say it was just right.

Updated at 2:24 p.m.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

The sanctions against USC were definitely in line with the laundry-list of charges levied against the NCAA.

USC didn't get the Death Penalty--the NCAA doesn't go that rout anymore since it nearly destroyed SMU--but the infractions committee did strongly consider a one-year ban on television.

A two-year bowl ban hurts, but not as much as the loss of 30 scholarships. That's where the NCAA punches when it wants to hurt. You can't win big without players and the loss of grants-in-aid limits your ability to sustain competitive greatness. It leaves you little margin of error for the players you do recruit.

But, as history shows, you can survive and bounce back. Miami in 1995 got hit with the loss of 31 scholarships and recovered to win the national title only six years later. Alabama was hit hard in 2002 but won the national title last year. USC football got knocked down Thursday, the question now is: how long does it take to get up?

Updated at 2:38 p.m.

Dave Fairbank, The Daily Press

The penalties handed down to USC were appropriate, which means they weren’t severe enough.

That’s because Trojan officials will throw a hissy and scream about lack of due process and say, “We get hit with two years and 30 scholarships for stuff that SEC schools pull on a monthly basis!?!?” They’ll appeal. They’ll find a sympathetic arbiter. The penalties will be knocked back to a one-year bowl ban and maybe a loss of a dozen scholarships — something that will elicit somber tones at press conferences, but a gig they can endure standing on their head.

To be sure, the NCAA enforcement process is flawed — start with lack of subpoena power — but that’s an argument for another day. Penalties must serve as deterrent as well as punishment. I have zero confidence that Southern Cal’s will be either.

Updated at 2:41 p.m.

Andrea Adelson, Orlando Sentinel

The hammer came down on USC harder than many anticipated – bowl bans, scholarship losses, the BCS championship gone, a disassociation from Reggie Bush.

Good for the NCAA.

USC had an ineligible player lead it to two national championship games, profiting off his success and building an image of a program that had finally returned to prominence, in part on his back. All the while, agents were skulking around the campus, looking for ways to get in. This was not about Reggie Bush alone.

This was about a lack of institutional control that simply cannot be tolerated.

Let this be a warning to programs across the country: nobody is immune to penalties, not even mighty USC. The NCAA could have banned TV time as well, but decided its program-crushing sanctions were enough. The message was sent – another program may get it even worse than the Trojans should the NCAA come knocking.


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