Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:56 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 3:59 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Scandals, scholarships and rules changes were among the topics of frequent conversation at last week's NCAA Convention and while not everything president Mark Emmert wanted - the $2,000 cost of attendance stipend for example - was passed by the Legislative Council and Board of Directors, it's safe to say what happened in Indianapolis laid the ground work for significant changes that will impact schools for decades to come.
While details on most proposals from Presidential Working Groups finally emerged in some areas, the one place where there was plenty of talk but little substance was the new enforcement model that some in the organization have been tasked with reforming. After a year that included news about major infractions at Tennessee, Miami, Ohio State, North Carolina and others, it's no surprise that this would be one area of emphasis.
"We were damn mad and not going to take it anymore," Ed Ray, Oregon State president and chair of the Enforcement Working Group, said.
The Enforcement Working Group that came out of August's presidential retreat was tasked with creating a tiered violation structure, new penalty procedures, a reformed process for adjudication and a reformed process that is fair while supporting the collegiate model the organization is looking to uphold.
"In terms of what is our charge, we heard President Emmert talk about this risk-reward analysis and the fact that there seems to be a general loss of integrity and upholding the rules," Vice President for Enforcement Julie Roe Lach said. "This isn't purely a reactive move, we're not just doing this because of the scandals or if there is a crisis. We're doing this because it's the right thing to do. This is a time to redefine what are our principles and what do we stand for."
In addition to following the principles of fairness, accountability and process integrity, flexibility is one of the key things the new model is designed to address as there are currently only two categories of violations: major and secondary. The new model would have four levels (most egregious, serious, secondary, minor) with the Committee on Infractions taking into account various mitigating or aggravating factors that would then help determine penalties. While many believe the enforcement side just makes it up as they go along (and they can because they don't follow past precedent), the model should help move cases along in the system quicker and result in more consistency among penalties given out to schools.
"The working group recognizes the wide-spread perception that the current penalty model leads to inconsistent and insufficient penalties and does not adequately deter other institutions and individuals from engaging in conduct contrary to the rules," the working group's report stated. "The working group believes that the severity of the penalty imposed must correspond with the significance of the rule violation(s)."
If it all seems a bit dense and hard to understand, it is. That's why the NCAA created this proposed penalty matrix that gives you a better visual idea of what future programs will have to get used to if they break rules. For example, if you commit a serious Level I offense and there were no mitigating factors, you can expect a 2-3 year postseason ban.
"We haven't had a lot of pushback on this," Roe Lach said of the new multi-level structure. "If there's anything in the package that is a no-brainer, it seems like this may be it.
"An issue we've heard is we need to be more consistent and allow for more predictability. I think if we are more consistent, it would afford more predictability. The idea is to move toward a penalty guidelines model."
So how does it really work? Well, take the infamous USC case involving Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo among others: violations of NCAA bylaws governing amateurism; failure to report knowledge of violations; unethical conduct; violations of coaching staff limitations; impermissible recruiting contacts by a representative of the institution's athletics interests; impermissible inducements and extra benefits; and lack of institutional control.
According to the new model, this would be classified as multiple Level I violations with four significant aggravating factors. Here's a comparison of penalties with what the Trojans got and what they would have received under the new model:
So yes, USC would have been punished even worse under the new proposed enforcement model coming from the NCAA. That's interesting because athletic director Pat Haden is on the enforcement working group and has made it a point to say that the Trojans were unfairly punished. In other examples provided by the NCAA, Baylor's basketball program would have seen the number of scholarships available slashed in half following the school's 2005 infractions case. Instead of fewer practice hours for Rich Rodriguez and Michigan in their case, the Wolverines could have lost up to four scholarships per year. Florida State's 2009 case could have seen football scholarship losses of 10-21 per year for three years instead of the six they received.
Given the new model, expect the hammer from Indianapolis to come down harder on cheaters in the future.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 1:05 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 3:53 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin did what he could to get Matt Barkley to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
USC receivers just kept running routes and, thanks to Barkley, UCLA fell on the wrong end of a rout once again.
It had been 534 days but USC could finally say they were bowl eligible too.
The Trojans have to win at least six games next season to qualify for a bowl of course - a near certainty given the amount of talent returning in 2012 - but on the Coliseum turf Saturday night, they could finally say they had the right to play in one after shutting out their crosstown rival UCLA 50-0.
The only question left in 2011: One more year or thanks for the memories Matt?
"This night is too special to take away from what we've done," Barkley said. "I don't want to worry about my future, I want to spend my time enjoying the night. We've worked hard for this and we deserve to celebrate a little bit."
Barkley's team jumped the gun a little, singing the fight song while he was in the middle of his press conference.
"That gave me chills."
In what could have been the quarterback's final performance under center, he went out close to perfect: 35-for-42, 423 yards and a school record-tying (his own, by the way) six touchdown passes.
The fans want an encore next year and you can understand why.
"When he gets back from New York we will sit down," Kiffin said. "Unless he just wants to do it to be a special Trojan, he is not coming back.
"I probably shouldn't say this but I look up to Matt Barkley. He has been through a lot of adversity. Basically all of his dreams about football were taken away with the sanctions. I don't know any 39-year olds that can handle things the way he did, much less any 19-year olds."
The pitch to stay is easy enough he doesn't have to say much at all.
USC started just only four seniors, two of whom were on offense. Just nine players who saw any significant playing time won't be back next year prior to any NFL defections. Biletnikoff finalist Robert Woods (13 catches for 113 yards, two touchdowns) will return and Marqise Lee (13 catches for 224 yards, two touchdowns) will be just a sophomore. Every starter on the offensive line could return, including potential first round left tackle Matt Kalil, who he said is a "package deal" with Barkley earlier in the week.
Even the defense is loaded, with two freshman tying for the lead in tackles for the first time in school history.
So the question will be, for the next several weeks, will he stay or will he go?
"I've been in his ear trying to get him back," Woods said. "Of course the decision is his but I feel like we could go a long way with him."
"I haven't started yet," Lee said with a grin. "But I'm going to."
Kiffin has been on record saying that sure-fire first round picks should leave but his tune has changed over the past few months. Not much of a joker, he's cracks plenty about his quarterback coming back.
With Barkley the Trojans can emerge from their bowl ban (and start scholarship reductions) as a top five team, primed to compete not only for a Rose Bowl but a national title like the good old days under Pete Carroll. The blond-haired Southern California kid could lead his dream school out of the program's toughest days and back to the promise land.
"We are coming out of the dark," said Kiffin about 2012.
USC has a great film department so they may have already sold the script to Disney.
"It means a lot knowing the Trojan family has my back. It's going to be tough," the signal-caller added. "I'm still enjoying that game and enjoying this night."
The Coliseum crowd started the "One more year" chant early. After watching the Trojans' scoreboard get a workout though, it wasn't clear who they wanted to come back more, Barkley or UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel.
The loss dropped him to 26-32 overall, 17-15 in the conference at his alma mater. Though Neuheisel has yet to beat USC, he talked about the gap between the school 14 miles away being closed earlier in the week - after UCLA backed into the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon.
"That was a pretty strong statement to make," Kiffin said. "Our players took that very personal. It was talked about a lot and not by me at all. I think they really felt disrespected."
After Saturday, the gap may never have been wider.
"I'm going to evaluate this program at the end of the year like I always have," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "We've got another game to focus on and it's a big game.
"It's a devastating loss for any Bruin fan or anybody in that locker room or any of the coaches."
UCLA gave up a 98-yard scoring drive and defensive backs had trouble all night preventing receivers from getting behind them for long scores. They allowed the Trojans' smallest offensive player, running back Curtis McNeal, to take a simple off tackle play 73-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Kevin Prince was the lone bright spot but ended up as the team's leading rusher, not exactly the plan.
In many ways it was over before it began.
"The first drive," Neuheisel said of when he knew he had a problem. "We couldn't stop them and we were too inconsistent on offense to be in a scoring fest and it just got out of hand."
The Pac-12 office said USC could only say they finished in first with their 10-2 record and could not call themselves South champions. They gave their blessing for UCLA to do, despite finishing second, however.
Tomato, tohmato. First place vs. South champion, the scoreboard did the talking.
"It shows who really is the Pac-12 champion," Kalil said.
In the locker room after the game, the team found shirts adorned with "Pac-12 South Champions" awaiting them from athletic director Pat Haden.
Across the country there are plenty of fierce rivalries but nothing quite like the crosstown showdown that takes place at the end of the season every year in Los Angeles. Office bragging rights are at stake. Friends won't speak to each other afterward. In plenty of cases it pits brother versus brother - including on the field.
Tim McDonald was a two-time All-American safety for USC. Son T.J. followed in his footsteps and started for the Trojans when he was a freshman at the position. Younger brother Tevin took a different path and signed with the Bruins, ending up as the starter opposite his brother Saturday night.
T.J. will take home bragging rights once again and likely spend Christmas detailing his interception in the red zone that ended one of the few Bruins scoring threats.
"It's a big thing," McDonald said of the pick. "But for us to get that shutout, for this crosstown rivalry, to play this way in the last game of the season, this was our bowl game. We had nothing to leave out on the field and we did that."
Kiffin's squad took the title of city champions for the 12th time in 13 years. Though they had the (NCAA) book thrown at them and doubters aplenty, they lived up to the school's 'Fight On' motto throughout the turmoil that had engulfed the program the past few years and, it seems, is starting to disperse.
"We had a lot to play for this year," Barkley said. "We were playing for this university, the history of this program. You're playing for personal pride, you don't want to just flush the season down the toilet. There were a ton of things that we were playing for and that motivated us."
Woods became the school and conference leader in receptions early in the second half. Barkley broke Matt Leinart's school and conference record with his 39th touchdown pass of the season.
"It's unreal, I never thought this would happen," he said. "I remember watching that year that he had."
The Trojans were not eligible for the Pac-12 championship or a BCS bowl but they stated their case one final time that they could beat anybody in the country in 2011.
"The way we're playing, I think we could," Barkley said.
So what about next year?
Tags: BCS, Biletnikoff Award, Bryan Fischer, Curtis McNeal, Dan Guerrero, Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Kevin Prince, Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee, Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, Matt Leinart, NCAA, Oregon, Pac-12, Pac-12 Championship Game, Pat Haden, Pete Carroll, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Rose Bowl, T.J. McDonald, Tevin McDonald, Tim McDonald, UCLA, USC
Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:50 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's first home night game since 1990 was supposed to be all about the Irish. New gold helmets, multiple five-star recruits on the sideline, even talk coming into the game about winning out and going to a BCS game.
USCheard all of the talk about the game and shrugged it off. Rivalry game? It was just another game to them. They were disrespected - first time in school history they were 5-1 and unranked in the polls on top of being a nine-point underdog - and were taking a business trip to the Midwest.
Behind a surprising rushing attack and the reliable duo of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, the Trojans pulled off the upset 31-17 and stunned a capacity crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 3:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Posted on: June 7, 2011 12:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The source at the Heisman Trophy Trust told us that there was no specific agreement with Reggie Bush to return the trophy, but that it was “alluded to in Reggie’s statement and the whole world reasonably expected him to return it.”
There were two versions of Bush's trophy given out. One to Bush and one to USC. Since September, USC athletic director Pat Haden has returned the school's trophy to the Heisman Trust. Apparently, while the Heisman Trust has tried to contact Bush about returning his trophy, Bush hasn't made any effort to do so. Which, no matter how you feel about the entire Bush/USC situation, is rather lame. If you took the time to publicly say you were going to forfeit the trophy, then forfeit the trophy. Actions speak louder than words and all that.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 8:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
USC athletic director Pat Haden threw his full support behind embattled head coach Lane Kiffin in the wake of a recent report saying he would be named in an NCAA violations case at Tennessee.
AOL Fanhouse reported last Wednesday that Kiffin would be cited for a failure to monitor violation arising from his time as head coach of the Volunteers. Kiffin’s brother-in-law David Reeves, who was an assistant on staff, will reportedly be cited for improper contact with recruits.
“I read the report and I know he can’t comment on it,” Haden said. “I can’t really ask a lot about it because it happened at Tennessee. Right now it really is not a USC issue.
“What I know of Lane Kiffin is he’s been more than compliant with everything we ask. He is doing the right thing and we’ll see how this report turns out, how the investigation goes, what the results are, I just have no idea what’s going to happen. All I know is our (case) took a long time and I don’t know how long this will take.”
The violations stemmed from a group of school hostesses who allegedly made improper contact with several recruits, with Reaves reportedly instructing the hostesses on how to contact the recruits. It was one of several alleged violations committed by Tennessee during Kiffin’s short tenure at the school. Despite the run-ins with the NCAA at his previous school, Haden believes Kiffin is doing everything by the letter of the law at USC.
“I did not hire Lane but in my seven months, he has been very positive in terms of compliance,” Haden said. “The reputation and reality of Lane Kiffin are two entirely different things. I understand what his reputation is but the reality that I’ve dealt with is not that reputation.”
USC was placed on four years of probation by the NCAA for violations stemming from a lack of institutional control following an investigation centered on the school's football and men’s basketball programs. The school is currently appealing several of the sanctions placed on the football team but Haden did not think the recent news would have any effect on the appeal.
“I sure hope not,” he said. “Those are two separate cases and it should not, that’s the Tennessee case. The way these play out, I would expect we’ll hear from the Appeals Committee long before the Tennessee situation is taken care of.
Haden spoke to reporters following a six hour summit designed to discuss issues related to agent awareness and education. Representatives of the Pac-10, SEC, NCAA, NFL and NFL Players Association were in attendance.
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:07 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Pac-10 still has a lot of details to work out for the 2011 season when both Colorado and Utah will join the conference. Really, all we know for sure about the new Pac-10 is that its going to have a conference championship game, 12 teams and two divisions. Where that conference championship game will be held, or who will be in those divisions, we don't know.
Thanks to USC athletic director, Pat Haden, however, we're beginning to at least get an idea of what the divisions will look like. The conference athletic directors got together for a meeting last week in which they discussed these matters, and one of the divisional suggestions passed by a 7-to-5 vote. Though that doesn't mean it will be put into effect.
The plan is to break the conference up between north and south, but that creates a problem for schools in Washington and Oregon who need to keep an imprint in the state of California for recruiting purposes. So a bit of a compromise has been struck. Both Cal and Stanford would be placed in the North Division, while the two newcomers to the conference will head south.
Which means the Pac-10 would look like this.
“I told them my alumni will kill me if we don’t play the Northern California schools and have the weekender every year," said Haden.
“I proposed a 5-2-2 model that has us playing the five schools (UCLA, AZ schools and Co/Ut) every year and then have the Northern California schools as part of our regular 2 and then rotate the other two. We need to play Stanford and Cal.”
Which doesn't seem all that unreasonable. If the conference is willing to put Stanford and Cal up north so the Oregon and Washington schools can maintain a presence in the state of California, then I don't see why it can't give USC protected rivalries with Cal and Stanford as well. The problem might come if UCLA asks for the same thing, because then the other four north schools may only get one game in southern California every six years or so.
The final vote will come later this month.
Posted on: September 2, 2010 11:03 am
Edited on: September 2, 2010 2:24 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
In more fascinating indie talk, there are some albums I've been meaning to pick up this from the last six months. In less fascinating indie talk, USC athletic director Pat Haden is causing a stir by not ruling out a break from the Pac-10.
Haden has been making headlines since taking over for Mike Garrett about a month ago, whether it's about giving back Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy or keeping a short leash on new head coach Lane Kiffin, it is clear the new AD is not afraid to speak his mind. So when asked about the possibilities of USC following BYU's lead and going independent in football, Haden did not hold back.
“I think you always have to look at every opportunity,” Haden, who’s starting his second month on the job, said from the football team’s hotel in Hawaii.
“We’re a happy member of the Pac-10. I don’t have any ulterior motives or plans to advance the ball on this. I think the Pac-10 with a new commissioner and new opportunities has some growth built in already.
“But would we every consider it? I think you have to. As an athletic director in today’s environment, you have to consider every alternative.”
There goes Haden, pulling the old press question oreo (agree-deny-agree) and leaving everyone with little to no conclusion as to whether or not this is an actual possibility.
The one piece of BYU's break from conference monogamy that will get the attention of other major football programs is the eight year television deal they signed with ESPN. USC has a much larger audience on the national level and would be able to negotiate a more lucrative deal should they decide to make the move for independence.
But for now USC needs to focus on the task at hand and that is getting back into good graces with the NCAA and continuing to build despite their current sanctions. That campaign will begin late this evening, with their season opener at Hawaii.
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