USC Basketball imposed major sanctions on itself this morning as the program will be banned from all postseason tournaments. The Trojans will also forfeit scholarships, reduce the number of coaches able to recruit for one summer, reduce its recruiting days next season, and vacate all wins during OJ Mayo's one season at USC.
It's not uncommon for a collegiate athletic program to impose sanctions on itself in an effort to curry favor with the NCAA while under investigation. Sometimes it works and the NCAA accepts the sanctions with no additional punishments. But the NCAA does have the right impose additional sanctions, which it did with the Michigan basketball program, for example.
The move by USC is further evidence that the school is willing to hang its basketball program out to dry, so long as it can protect its football program. That being said, the allegations in the OJ Mayo investigation seemed slightly more serious than allegations in the Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight investigations. While there have been reports directly tying former basketball coach Tim Floyd to Rodney Guillory and Louis Johnson, two associates of Mayo, there have been no public reports of USC's or Pete Carroll's knowledge of the alleged improprieties taking place in Bush and McKnight situations.
There are plenty of rumors and allegations floating around the internet about USC. If you want to read them, I suggest you go to Rivals.com. But I have no idea what's really true and what's not.
I do know that this is a tough pill to swallow for a USC basketball team that had been playing exceptionally well in recent weeks. Most people thought this would be a lost season for Trojan hoops, but Kevin O'Neill's squad has won eight in a row. Since transfer Mike Garrity became eligible, the Trojans have beaten two ranked teams in Tennessee and UNLV, beaten a potential tournament team in St. Mary's, won a tournament in Hawaii, and also defeated rival Arizona at home on New Year's Eve.
The Arizona win was particularly sweet since Solomon Hill, Derrick Williams, and Lamont Jones decommitted to USC and switched to Arizona after more serious reports about Floyd surfaced. Now one would have to say those recruits made the right call since they're actually eligible for the postseason and Pac-10 Tournament this year. Also making the right call, appear to be Taj Gibson, DeMar DeRozan, and all of the other people who abandoned the program when it seemed like sanctions were possible.
I can't help but feel for Kevin O'Neill who only found out late last night about the sanctions, as well as his players who had bought into the program and were literally talking national championship just a few days ago.
One other casualty of all this could be athletic director Mike Garrett. For years, Garrett has wrested his laurels on his fifth choice for head coach restoring Trojan football to greatness. Now with both the football and basketball programs under investigation, and a new president set to replace Steve Sample later this year, it would be a surprise if Garrett lasted much past 2011.