USC Football News: Pat Haden’s Fighting Words Open Door for NCAA Lawsuit


USC and athletic director Pat Haden released a statement Wednesday in response to the unsealing of documents related to the Todd McNair lawsuit against the NCAA, calling into question the organization’s own apparent lack of institutional control.

"These recent documents confirm what we’ve believed all along, that we were treated unfairly in this investigation and its penalties. I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls. It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules."

The Trojans and Haden in particular have walked the company line when it comes to commenting on the NCAA sanctions which crippled USC’s football and basketball programs because a “lack of institutional control.”

More from Reign of Troy

While the university has always maintained that the NCAA overstepped its bounds in stripping USC of 30 total scholarships over three years and instituting a two-year postseason ban in 2010 because of the Reggie Bush scandal, this is the most combative Haden has appeared in public regarding the matter.

In 2013 when Penn State’s sanctions were reduced, Haden was measured.

"As you know, the NCAA is currently engaged in the process of evaluating and potentially reforming its governance structure.  We look forward to having a positive impact on that process. We also are hopeful that the NCAA’s recently-enacted enforcement and penalty reforms will result in a consistent and fair enforcement and penalty process for all its institutions.  USC will continue to work cooperatively with the NCAA towards that goal. We are near the end of the NCAA sanctions imposed on us in 2010 and we look forward to their expiration."

Back then, Haden was on board with helping the NCAA reform the infractions process and he certainly still is, but his tone strikes much sharper now.

In directly questioning the NCAA’s own measure of institutional control, Haden said what many Trojan fans have been saying since the infractions committee returned their verdict and what they have repeated every time another institution was slapped on the wrist for similar or more grievous infractions.

RELATED: Should USC sue the NCAA based on the McNair documents?

The documents in question appear to show a bias against USC and Todd McNair by members and non-members of the infractions committee discussing the case in emails. McNair specifically was painted by certain figures as being a liar, while USC was seen as needing to be taken down a peg and taught a lesson.

More importantly, the NCAA’s own rules were broken in dialogue between non-voting members and observers who actively pitched for harsh sanctions to be imposed even though they were no supposed to influence voting members on the case.

Perhaps the most intriguing tidbit from USC’s response was on the matter of future action.

"It seems likely that there are additional documents that will come to light.  Once USC has had the opportunity to review all of the documents unsealed by the court, we will determine what further action is appropriate."

The refrain from USC since the sanctions were handed out and the appeal denied has been one of moving on and moving forward.

For the first time, the door has now been publicly opened for the university to take action against the NCAA.

Though it is too late for the Trojans to recover scholarships, the NCAA could still restore victories and USC’s national championship in 2004. More likely, there could be major monetary damages to be recovered and a moral victory won in the public eye.

There is no telling what more would need to be revealed for USC to take the leap towards a lawsuit, but the possibility has never been greater.

What should USC do next regarding the NCAA?

View Results