It was a violation.
From the USC Official Website:
As a condition of his reinstatement, the NCAA said that he had to make a charitable contribution of $460 based on the value of the tickets. He and his family did that today, therefore late this afternoon the NCAA restored his eligibility and he will be able to play in tomorrow's game against Oregon.
What a waste of time and energy. Mayo/Carmelo, Wooden/Love and Leinart/ESPN are just example of the time wasted on things that in the grand scheme of things are unimportant.
They should be focusing on the Reggie Bush issue so that we can a ruling, move forward and put that issue behind us.