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April 27, 2012

NCAA accepts USC's punishment (w/ VIDEO)



VIDEO: Eric Hyman


South Carolina was punished by the NCAA on Friday, ending a nearly two-year process that had college football's governing body investigating the program due to violations stemming from improper recruiting practices and a handful of players living at a Columbia luxury hotel at reduced rates.

The NCAA accepted USC's proposed punishment and did not add any more serious penalties, such as a vacation of wins or a postseason ban. The program was not labeled as a repeat violator, despite the investigation occurring within a five-year window of an investigation that looked into the program under former coach Lou Holtz.

"This has been one of the best cases I have seen, from a process standpoint," said Britton Banowsky, the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions. ""A university has a choice to make. It was obvious they wanted to get to the truth. In some cases, they went beyond what the NCAA was doing."

"The response from them as far as how the South Carolina people handled it, has been remarkable," athletic director Eric Hyman said. "We did have some people who made some mistakes. We'll be better off for having gone through something like this. When we found something, we weren't trying to hide it."

USC's admittance of guilt and that it didn't try to cover anything up - as Ohio State and North Carolina did, leading to more severe charges - was what sprung it from under the dark cloud. USC is on probation for three years, meaning that if another violation occurs in any facet of the athletic department, the NCAA could really drop the hammer, but as long as USC keeps its nose clean across the board, it has nothing to fear.

Hyman also confirmed that there will be no additional punishments for any of the individuals named in the notice of allegation. He felt the best approach was to move on and let everybody begin the getting-better process.

The complete list of punishments:

* Public reprimand and censure (a citation of failure to monitor).

* Three years of probation, from April 27, 2012, to April 26, 2015.

* Reduction of football scholarships by three (from 85 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

* Reduction of football offers by three (from 25 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

* $18,500 fine.

* Indefinite association with boosters Steve Gordon and Kevin Lahn of the S.A.M. Foundation, and with The Whitney hotel.

* Limit of 30 official visits for football recruits for the 2012-13 academic year.

* Limit of 50 official visits for track & field for the 2012-13 academic year.

* Suspension of head track & field coach Curtis Frye for the 2012 Penn Relays (which are currently taking place).

* Assistant men's basketball coach Mike Boynton was prohibited from recruiting in December 2011 (Boynton is no longer employed at USC).

* Assistant football coach G.A. Mangus was prohibited from recruiting during January 2012.

USC had proposed most of the punishments in its February hearing, pleading no-contest to all charges but one. That charge, a failure to monitor for the violations involving The Whitney hotel, was disputed by USC.

The NCAA accepted the punishments and was satisfied that USC had identified the culprits and taken the steps to correct it, despite one of the violators - former compliance director Jennifer Stiles - still being employed at USC. Stiles remains in the compliance office, but is not in charge, and was dealt a substantial salary loss.

USC hired Chris Rogers as its new compliance director, despite Rogers last overseeing the scandal-rocked program at Ohio State. Last year, USC hired Judy Van Horn from Michigan, after she had received a letter of reprimand from the school due to an investigation into its football program.

The NCAA recognized USC's willingness to throw itself on the so-to-speak mercy of the court, and credited the university for full and complete cooperation. USC has already restructured its housing policies for student-athletes, reprimanded Stiles, Frye, Mangus and Boynton and strengthened the compliance office, particularly in the case of football, by adding former player Terry Cousin to the staff.

"The university failed to monitor and investigate the impermissible recruiting activity by boosters, according to the committee," the NCAA's release said. "Specifically, at least four athletics department employees did not recognize the potential violations.

"With the exception of determining when the local hotel should be considered a booster organization, the university agreed with all of the allegations in this case, including the failure to monitor.

"When determining the penalties, the committee noted the university's cooperation in the investigation, which went beyond standard expectations, and the university's self-imposed penalties."

"We appreciate the Committee on Infractions' thoughtful consideration of our case," USC President Harris Pastides said in a statement. "While it is most unfortunate that we stumbled, we have certainly had a teachable moment from this experience which will strengthen our resolve to ensure that our athletics and our university operate in full compliance with NCAA legislation."

Timeline
NCAA accepts USC's self-proposed punishment

USC to address Committee on Infractions today

USC responds to NCAA letter of allegations

USC receives notice of allegations

For complete filings of the violations, click here

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