Update at the end of the piece...P
If you scan the various USC message boards there is of course a lot of anger being vented toward the current administration starting at Heritage Hall all the way up to the Board of Trustees.
The anger is simple in nature...instead of FIGHT ON! it was more like ROLL OVER!
USC's lack of an aggressive PR campaign going back to the previous administration all the way through to this weeks final chapter of the appeal being denied have left many USC faithful bewildered to say the least and down right angry at the most.
Whatever the reason, USC chose the LEAST aggressive path it could take in the face of some of the worst sanctions ever to be handed down for some of the most minor offenses ever committed. There was no academic fraud, there was no USC coach, employee or big name booster (Ornstein and Guillory were deemed boosters after the fact) that was ever accused of paying a player etc.
USC is not blameless either though. Guillory should have never been allowed on campus let alone the basketball offices. If Mike Garrett was willing to admit that Mayo took money then why not admit that Bush took money? USC readily admitted that Bush was probably (he was) ineligible for the 2005 season so why not self-sanction football like USC did to basketball?
In the end that really doesn't matter. We are where we are, but that doesn't mean that many fans and alums aren't pissed off.
So why not challenge the NCAA?
The prime reasons or rumors given are that USC is looking at the bigger picture.
With the huge donations they are pulling in getting into a long protracted legal battle would be a messy distraction. A messy distraction is not something these pillars of industry and education are comfortable in dealing with. Regardless of their education and success most of the people making the decisions have never picked up anything heavier than a pencil...asking them to roll their sleeves up and get into a junkyard brawl where the main rule is "there are no rules" is simply unseemly to them.
But in the end that isn't the real reason.
USC's punishment was rooted in lax compliance. Be it a car registration form not properly filled out or phone records not checked thorough enough, USC got hit because they SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.
SHOULD HAVE KNOWN means someone was asleep at the switch.
It is clear that compliance was lax. 2 compliance officers for 16 or so sports is a little light in the NCAA's eyes...especially if your aren't catching the infractions.
The real reason is simple and you don't have to look any further than the Presidents office...
Before he became president of USC Max Nikias was in charge of compliance under President Steven Sample. These infractions happened on his watch.
They are at his feet.
If USC were to go to war with the NCAA the discovery process alone would be a sight to behold. Sure, USC would get a shot at the internal workings and communications of the NCAA but we all know it cuts both ways...and the rumors abound that there is plenty that USC doesn't really want to discuss in a public forum.
Nikias' heading compliance alone is enough to keep USC out of court. Nikias has never shied away from his being a football fan. He was one of Pete Carroll's biggest supporters. Putting him in a deposition would essentially give the University a black eye if for no other reason he ran a lax compliance department.
The headline could read..."Football fan President at USC looked the other way while overseeing compliance".
Yeah, that works...
That would not sit well with donors who want to give money to the school. They don't want their benevolence tarnished because of what might come out in a protracted legal battle with the NCAA.
I am not a fan of how Pat Haden handled this but he was dealt a crappy hand. And for someone who supposedly likes to get major business deals done this was not the case to go off the reservation.
There might be some skeletons out there that many do not want unearthed. Once discovery starts all bets are off...you never know what might become public. With USC's grand plan those type of details could really throw a monkey in the wrench.
I am not breaking any new ground here. Nikias' history is well known and anyone who has read any press release or story about USC's hierarchy already knows this. I am just surprised that there hasn't been more written about it in the past.
USC is not going to court no matter how bad some of us want them to. The things that could be brought to the surface would be a Beeline right back to Max Nikias and possibly to the Board of Trustees.
That is bad for business when you are trying to build USC's stature the way the current administration is already doing.
I received a phone call this morning from someone with some pertinent information that will clarify this piece...
1) The office of the Provost has oversight of athletic compliance. That does not mean that Dr. Nikias was Head of Compliance, just that as Provost Compliance was one of the many things that fell under his umbrella of responsibility. as it was explained to me Dr. Nikias did make some changes when he assumed responsibility as Provost, but I was not given any real specifics or time lines.
2) Dr. Nikias did not become Provost until mid-late 2005. By then Reggie was already on his money grab. I won't lay that at Dr. Nikias' feet. But Mayo, the Papdakis dinners, the extra coach, the extra phone calls did happen when Dr. Nikias was Provost. As weak as the Papdakis dinners, the extra coach, the extra phone calls are to many of us, whether we like it of not, they were used as the foundation for the LOIC charge.
The bottom line is this...Nowhere in the piece did I accuse or imply Dr. Nikias of any wrong doing...merely that compliance issues happened on his watch.
Finally, the take home message is a simple one...How do you think it would look to have the President of USC, who has been one of the biggest purveyors of donations in school history having to sit for a deposition about something as minor as a recruiting dinner that didn't pass the NCAA's smell test.
USC is pretty savvy, so they won't put themselves into that position. Like I said, it is bad for business.
This is simply one opinion...MINE. Dr. Nikias has been nothing but great for USC.The school is in great hands but as I said above going to war is not on these peoples nature. It is unseemly.
Another point...if USC were to go war with the NCAA as I noted above, discovery cuts both ways. If the NCAA found any other infractions they could re-investigate...there is no double jeopardy with the NCAA. Even though it took them 4-years to find very little that they used to nail USC, I would not put it past them to "find" something else.
That is why USC is moving on...