The NCAA threw the book at storied Southern California yesterday with a 2-year bowl ban, 4 years' probation, loss of scholarships and forfeits of an entire year's games for improper benefits to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush dating to the Trojans' 2004 national championship.
USC was penalized for a lack of institutional control in the ruling by the NCAA following its 4-year investigation. The report cited numerous improper benefits for Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo, who spent just 1 year with the Trojans.
The coaches who presided over the alleged misdeeds - football's Pete Carroll and basketball's Tim Floyd - left USC in the past year.
"I'm absolutely shocked and disappointed in the findings of the NCAA," Carroll said in a video statement produced by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, who hired him in January. "I never thought it would come to this . . . I'm extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this right now."
The penalties include the loss of 30 football scholarships over 3 years and vacating 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through the 2005 season. USC beat Oklahoma in the BCS title game on Jan. 4, 2005, and won 12 games during Bush's Heisman-winning 2005 season, which ended with a loss to Texas in the 2006 BCS title game.
Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said a committee will meet to consider vacating USC's 2004 championship. While no action would go into effect until USC's appeals are heard by the NCAA, Hancock said there would be no 2004 champion if USC's victory is vacated.
The NCAA says Bush received lavish gifts from two fledgling sports marketers hoping to sign him. The men paid for everything from hotel stays and a rent-free home where Bush's family apparently lived to a limousine and a new suit when he accepted his Heisman in New York in December 2005.
The rulings are a sharp repudiation of the Trojans' decade of stunning football success under Carroll, who won seven straight Pac-10 titles and two national championships before abruptly returning to the NFL. Floyd resigned last June, shortly after he was accused of giving cash to a middleman who helped steer Mayo to USC.
The NCAA found that Bush, identified as a "former football student-athlete," was ineligible beginning at least by December 2004, a ruling that could open discussion of the revocation of the New Orleans Saints star's Heisman. Members of the Heisman Trust have said they might review Bush's award if he were ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
"I have a great love for the University of Southern California, and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players," Bush said in a statement.
USC plans to appeal some of the penalties it believes are excessive.
The NCAA took no further action against the men's basketball team, which had already banned itself from postseason play last spring and vacated its wins from Mayo's season.
* Colorado has made the first move in what could be a wild ride to realignment by leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10.
Next up are Nebraska and Missouri, which are expected to decide by today whether to stay in the Big 12. Nebraska might leave for the Big Ten, but Missouri's decision is more complicated since it apparently has no such invitation.
The Pac-10 also could be ready to add Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech and the two Oklahoma schools to form a 16-team megaconference. That would leave Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State without many options.
And that might not be the end of realignment.