ESPN: USC football to get major sanctions
LOS ANGELES -- The USC football program will receive two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins from at least the 2004 season when the NCAA releases it sanctions on Thursday, a source told ESPN's Shelley Smith.
ESPN the Magazine's Bruce Feldman confirmed the two-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships from a second USC source.
USC will respond Thursday to the NCAA's findings following its investigation into possible violations by the Trojans' football and men's basketball programs, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN's Joe Schad.
There is no press conference scheduled for Thursday. According to an SID at USC, the school would issue a statement in response to any NCAA announcement addressing penalties. A different source had said earlier in the day that the school would have a press conference following the NCAA announcement.
The NCAA infractions committee held a hearing in February in which USC presented its responses to allegations of NCAA violations. Results of the report have been expected for several weeks.
USC football players will be informed about the sanctions at a mandatory meeting Thursday morning, a source told Feldman.
Once released, USC would have a chance to appeal.
USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.
The school's football team is under investigation for its dealing with Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush, who played at the school from 2003-05. If Bush is found retroactively ineligible, the Heisman Trust could strip him of his 2005 award.
The NCAA and investigators from the Pac-10 Conference have tried to determine whether Bush and his parents took improper benefits, including an alleged rent-free residence provided by a sports marketer. Bush has not met with NCAA and Pac-10 investigators and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
USC chose to contest the allegation against the football program, hoping to overcome the perception of a lack of institutional control, which could result in significant sanctions, including scholarship reductions, TV and postseason bans, recruiting restrictions and probation.
If USC is found guilty of major violations, the NCAA also could rule that the Trojans are "repeat violators." Per NCAA rules, "An institution shall be considered a 'repeat' violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty."
With the Trojans' season opener less than three months away, the news of the impending sanctions is sending shock waves across the USC campus.
Few students were understanding but most were shocked by these pending sanctions.
"I don't see why the actions of one person is basically spilling over the entire community," said USC student Warren Tichner."Basically, it's affecting USC, it's affecting a lot of our image, our prestige, and I don't see why one little thing is going to go on and ruin it all for all of us."
"We're upset but I think we understand that they had to do what they had to do," said another USC student Andrew Schultz.
The USC athletic program was last sanctioned in August of 2001.
The Associated Press and Eyewitness News reporter Robert Holguin contributed to this report.
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