USC Football: NCAA’s Backpedaling on Boise State’s Sanctions Hits Home



USC fans have beaten the ‘NCAA hates USC’ horse to death, and then some. However, with news that the NCAA is reconsidering its sanctions imposed on Boise State last fall, that horse might be getting a few more kicks to the ribs.

According to the Associated Press, the NCAA acknowledged that it overstepped its bounds in terms of the amount of punishment handed out to Boise State in response to a five-year span of questionable compliance, and instead are rewarding the Broncos by allowing them to join the mighty Big East. Here’s an excerpt from the AP, via ESPN:

"In a 25-page decision, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee concluded that the scholarship penalty announced last September, in addition to Boise State’s self-imposed sanctions, was “excessive such that it constituted an abuse of discretion.” Boise State’s voluntary measures included three fewer scholarships for the 2011-12 school year and fewer preseason practices. The NCAA added scholarship reductions from 85 to 82 through the 2013-14 school year and limited contact during spring practice. The university appealed the additional sanctions for the football program, arguing that the NCAA’s history of scholarship reduction penalties was inconsistent with penalties imposed in the case of Boise State. The appeals committee agreed."

Now, let’s look at this more closely. Boise State was losing just three scholarships per year for three years, for a total of nine scholarships lost to sanctions. So, instead of being able to sign 25 football players, they would be forced to sign a maximum of 22 players, along with limiting their total roster of scholarship players to 82. Alright.

Just how much of an impact are those three lost scholarships to Boise State? Well, consider that on Signing Day 2010, Boise State’s recruiting class was #82 in the nation according to Rivals, with, get this, 10 signees.

In 2009, the Broncos signed 21 players, while bringing in 19 in 2008. Furthermore, the Broncos averaged 20.5 signees in the years dating back to 2002. Yet, according to the NCAA, the penalties levied were far too severe, or at least severe enough to warrant a reconsideration.

The irony here, is that the NCAA is exactly right, even though three scholarships per year is a nominal amount. They took a self-imposed sanction and tripled it. Regardless of the size of the penalty, tripling a self-imposed sanction is out of character for even the NCAA, as recent history shows that self-imposing sanctions leads to an NCAA reprieve or a reduced sentence.

And you can look no further than the USC basketball program as a perfect example of that, as blatant evidence that Tim Floyd was involved in the handling of funds to O.J. Mayo via handler Rodney Guillory only warranted a one-season postseason ban of the self-imposed variety, according to the NCAA.

The inconsistencies of the NCAA at this point are laughable. So much so, that it’s interesting that Boise State of all schools, appears to be the one school that has enabled the NCAA to rethink their process, albeit pertaining to just this set of sanctions.

It wasn’t Ohio State who benefited from the allowance of ineligible players partaking in bowl games. Nor, was it one of multiple SEC schools for being tied to Cam Newton and his father. The school that cracked the NCAA code of inconsistencies was Boise State. Boise State. The same school that until their joining of the Big East, had a mountain to climb when it came to fighting for an NCAA title.

So while USC still is saddled with the reduction of scholarships until the 2014 season, the 10 year anniversary of Reggie Bush taking improper benefits, Boise State appears to have fought a difficult appeal, and are winning.

The school still must wait to see whether or not the NCAA decides to lessen their punishment, but just forcing the NCAA to reconsider is victorious in itself, compared to the trials and tribulations that USC has had to endure after being penalized for the brash arrogance of a prior athletic director. Oh, and a house to a student athlete’s step-father paid for by an agent 100 miles from USC’s campus.