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Pat Haden Meets With NCAA To Discuss Scholarship Sanctions

Russell Simon |
September 26, 2013 | 4:15 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Pat Haden/CreativeCommons)
(Pat Haden/CreativeCommons)
Only one day after the NCAA announced that it was going to gradually reduce the scholarship sanctions levied against Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden announced he has also been in talks with the NCAA about getting the Trojans scholarship reductions lessened.

The initial scholarship sanctions placed on Penn State mirror those levied against USC in 2010 following the Reggie Bush impermissible benefits case.

Following a Yahoo! Sports investigation that revealed that the Heisman Trophy winner received over $100,000 dollars from various agents while he was suiting up in the backfield for the Trojans, the NCAA hit USC with a two-year bowl ban and a reduction of ten scholarships per year.

In a statement posted earlier today on the USC athletics website, Haden revealed that he spent the last two days in Indianapolis, where he met with NCAA officials including NCAA President Mark Emmert.

In that statement Haden said

“After learning of the NCAA’s actions on Tuesday (Sept. 24) regarding Penn State and the lessening of the sanctions that were imposed on that institution, when viewed in the context of the events that have shaken intercollegiate athletics over the past year, we felt compelled to discuss USC’s sanctions in a new light. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases. I also believe the sanctions have resulted in unintended consequences both for our football program and our student-athletes. Although the sanctions reduced our total football scholarship limit to 75 (down from 85), attrition resulting from injuries and transfers has resulted in less than 60 recruited scholarship student-athletes suiting up for our games. The current situation is certainly not what was envisioned, nor is it in the best interests of our student-athletes’ welfare.”

This announcement comes one day after, in an unprecedented move, the NCAA reduced the scholarship sanctions for Penn State. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the NCAA took away 10 initial and 20 total scholarships from the Penn State football team. Yesterday’s announcement means that the Nittany Lions will receive five additional scholarships back per year, beginning next year. This will allow them to be back to 25 initial scholarships per year beginning in 2015 and to 85 overall scholarships beginning in 2016.

With the sanctions against Penn State being lessened, Pat Haden now sees a clear precedent for the NCAA to ease up on SC. Haden made the comparison between Penn State and USC multiple times in his statement, arguing that

“In reducing Penn State’s scholarship penalties, the NCAA specifically noted the ‘progress’ it had made regarding athletics integrity. Since the Committee on Infractions (COI) issued its sanctions in 2010, USC has been held up as a model and praised for its integrity and commitment to compliance, a fact often mentioned by the NCAA itself. Although USC had two unsuccessful bites at the apple (the original COI hearing and the appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee), given the changing landscape impacting intercollegiate sports over the past year, the recent action regarding Penn State, the impact of the sanctions on our program and the efforts we have under taken at USC to compete with integrity, we again argued for some consideration regarding the 2010 sanctions."

This statement references quotes made yesterday in the NCAA’s statement on the lessening of the Penn State sanctions made by George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State. In that statement Mitchell said,

“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program.The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.”

Haden may not be the only athletic director who believes that scholarship reduction relief is warranted and deserved for his school. With the NCAA lessening the restrictions on Penn State, they may have opened up a Pandora’s box for other schools dealing with scholarship reductions.

Surely Mark Emmert has already received some phone calls from Boise State and Miami, two schools whose football programs have also struggled in the wake of scholarship reductions.

The NCAA has now established the precedent that scholarship reductions can be lessened. Now these schools will have to wait and see if the NCAA precedent will apply to them.

Reach Staff Reporter Russell Simon here; follow him on Twitter.



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