Will the NCAA be consistent in their ruling against USC?

I wrote most of this mornings piece last night so I did not see the articles in today's LAT until later on this morning.

As I noted this morning precedence will have a lot to do with how USC is punished. In short, no matter how much power the NCAA thinks they have they can't simply kill an ant with a nuclear weapon.

While some members of the Pac-10 and USC know what the NCAA has in the result of their investigation one can never know just how the NCAA will use it. This hearing will not be all wine and roses. The NCAA will take great pains to make this as legitimate as possible but in the end the ball is in their court.

It is their rules and they can do what they want....

But not without consequences.

The Bush situation is a bit of a different bird than others we have read about.

The NCAA committee that will meet beginning Thursday to determine the fate of USC athletics will do more than hear testimony, look at the evidence investigators have gathered and ponder the university's response.

It will also consider precedent -- past cases with similarities to whatever findings it makes concerning allegations that star football and men's basketball athletes received benefits in violation of college rules.

"We try to be consistent," Paul Dee, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, said recently.

[...]

A look at the cases:

Memphis

A women's golf coach provided impermissible benefits totaling more than $3,000 to four players, then provided false and misleading information to NCAA enforcement staff; Derrick Rose, star of the school's NCAA finalist basketball team, had an invalid SAT score and should not have been eligible to compete in 2007-08; Rose's brother received impermissible benefits such as free lodging and air transportation.

Penalties: Three years' probation; forfeiting 38 wins from 2007-08 basketball season; reduction of women's golf scholarships; loss of basketball postseason revenue; five-year show-cause order restricting athletically related duties of the fired women's golf coach at any NCAA-member school. Memphis is appealing the sanctions.

Alabama

More than 200 athletes in 16 sports misused the university's textbook distribution program for athletes to an amount totaling nearly $40,000 -- with 22 players knowingly breaking rules and giving textbooks and other materials to friends and other athletes.

Penalties: Three years' probation; forfeiture of football victories and individual records in men's tennis and men's and women's track and field; a $43,900 fine. Alabama is appealing the sanctions.

South Alabama

The men's tennis coach provided more than $12,000 in impermissible financial aid to five international players over a six-year period.

Penalties: Three years' probation; reduction in scholarships; four-year NCAA show-cause order for coach; permanent disassociation of coach with South Alabama's program; forfeiture of victories; one-year postseason ban.

Florida State

Three staff members were found guilty of academic fraud for giving improper assistance to 61 athletes in 10 sports.

Penalties: Four years' probation; scholarship reductions in 10 sports, forfeiture of all victories in which the involved athletes competed; show-cause orders ranging from three to five years for the staff members.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi

The athletic department was cited for lack of institutional control because of a "culture of noncompliance." Specifically, two international athletes -- one in women's volleyball, one in men's tennis -- and an international men's basketball prospect were at the center of violations that included ineligible participation, receipt of recruiting inducements, impermissible recruiting phone calls and a failure to report NCAA violations.

Penalties: Four years' probation; forfeiture of victories, postseason bans and scholarship reductions in volleyball and men's tennis; recruiting restrictions in all three sports.

Now if you read carefully you will find some similarities among the cases listed but very different from that of USC.

Each case had at least one of the following:

  • Money and/or benefits given directly to the players.
  • Transgressions by athletic department employees.
  • That there was some level of concealment by the athletic department/school.
  • The benefits that were were given were known by the school.

Each incident listed above played a significant role in determining the penalties handed out by the NCAA to the above listed institutions. More importantly, as far as we know, none of these has ever been alleged against USC since the Bush story broke 4 years ago. Have there been rumors? Yes. But nothing substantial outside of the grumblings of a convicted felon or two who have yet to have their stories corroborated anywhere.

Then there is this...(emphasis added)

USC goes in front of the NCAA committee Thursday. After four years of investigation, will anything really come of this?

Curtis: Sure, though exactly what will come of it is a little hard to say. But serious sanctions remain in play for two reasons. First, USC has strung together enough allegations over the past few years to rile NCAA officials. Even discounting the Reggie Bush issues, there's still plenty of disregard for the rules. And that disregard brings me to factor No. 2. Several former infractions committee members and NCAA investigators told me last summer that the association is ticked off that football coaches and school administrators don't fear the NCAA's punishment, and therefore don't respect the rules. The best way to fix that is to slap a school with significant punishments, including a postseason ban. USC could be the example in the next few months.

Really?

Now how is that being consistant? So, the NCAA , with an apparent axe to grind, would rather send a message because of what they perceived as the former coaching staff thumbing their noses at the NCAA instead of looking at the case on its merits.

Remember what was said earlier in the first article I linked...

"We try to be consistent," Paul Dee, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, said recently.

So which is it?

The NCAA could hammer USC and I have no doubt they will do their best to try and hit us hard, but if the punishment is disproportionate the NCAA will have a lawsuit on their hands, it is simple as that.

No one really knows how it will go.

Many speculate that because of precedence USC should not get hit too bad. Unfortunately, I am skeptical...

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