MINUTES AFTER THE NCAA ruled that it had accepted all of South Carolinas self-imposed sanctions for violating rules, the first Facebook post was out. The fan posting the message was thrilled to hear that the NCAA had exonerated USC on all charges.
The NCAA merely agreed with USCs sanctions, meaning it accepted the schools admitted guilt in giving $59,000 in extra benefits to athletes and recruits. The NCAAs message in the case was this: A universitys willingness to come clean can play a huge role in granting leniency.
In this case, said Britton Banowsky, chairman of the NCAA infractions committee, it was obvious to the committee that the university wanted to get to the truth. We see that less than we see the other approach.
USC officials are to be heralded for taking the proper course in dealing with the NCAA infractions.
That approach was in contrast to what happens these days in the world of sports, business and politics. The generally accepted practice when one is charged with a crime is to claim innocence, make yourself out to be the victim and blame the media.
Under Eric Hymans charge, USC took a refreshing tact.
When we found something, we werent trying to hide anything, Hyman said. We wanted to get to the root of the problem so we dont do these things again.
Harris Pastides chimed in with: 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.
As a result, the NCAA accepted what barely constitute any penalties at all levied by USC upon itself.
In a sport that already doles out an excessive number (85) of scholarships, losing three to football in 2013 and 2014 will have no affect on the future of the program. Perhaps the only losers will be the walk-ons who annually are granted scholarships.
For an athletic department that carries a rainy day fund of $12 million, the self-imposed fine of $18,500 for using ineligible players is equivalent to you or me having to pay a $1 late book fee at the library.
The limit of 30 official recruiting visits in football for 2012-13 sounds stiff, since the staff usually is limited to 56 per year. However, when you have been charged with over-signing in the past, this penalty likely will help USC be more selective in its recruiting practices.
The lone penalty of any magnitude is the three years of NCAA probation effective through April 26, 2015. Should the NCAA find more violations from the football program during that period, more severe penalties would likely ensue.
The probation carries with a stigma, especially when a school like USC has now fallen under NCAA probation twice during a seven-year period.
Hyman mentioned that it helped having Steve Spurrier as USCs football coach when dealing with the NCAA. Spurrier is the rare breed in the coaching business these days. He has won a national championship at Florida and is fast-approaching 200 career victories, while his programs at Duke, Florida and USC generally have been considered clean.
So, this investigation was much different than when USC faced the NCAA in 2005 for 10 violations five considered major. At that time the program was under the direction of a coach, Lou Holtz, who had been staying ahead of the NCAA posse for decades.
Spurrier has said his name was not attached to any of the violations. However unfair, that does not matter. The NCAA probation label will be attached to Spurrier and his program. It comes with the territory of being a head coach, just as he is credited for each of his wins.
In the end, that might be the harshest reality of USCs probation.
Watch commentaries by Morris Mondays at 6 and 11 p.m. on ABC Columbia News (WOLO-TV)