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USC awaits NCAA ruling: What's the holdup?

It has been nearly 14 weeks since the NCAA's hearing on the Trojans' case. Experts say that logistics and a need to get it right may be extending the decision-making process.

May 24, 2010|By Gary Klein

The longest NCAA sports hearing on record followed a four-year investigation into allegations of rule-breaking by USC's football and men's basketball programs. So why, experts say, would anyone expect that the outcome from all that be known quickly?

Typically, the NCAA Infractions Committee makes its final report public and announces any sanctions six to 10 weeks after a hearing.

USC's was nearly 14 weeks ago.

"I'm sure the committee is beginning to feel, 'We need to get this done and out,'" Tom Yeager, a former chairman of the infractions committee, said Monday. "But they won't rush it. The stakes are too high … There are no do-overs."

So what is taking so long?

Experts say that while the NCAA might have requested additional information from USC, what is most time-consuming are the logistics.

With committee members spread across the United States, getting everyone on a 10-member committee to sign off on all the language contained in what is surely a weighty document is a daunting challenge.

After an initial draft is prepared, the committee convenes by conference calls to review and make changes.

"It's literally done line by line," Yeager said.

And by people who have full-time jobs beyond the work they do as members of the committee.

"It's not like they're guys sitting in the office in Indianapolis doing this thing," Yeager said. "It's not just a matter of, 'Let's do it this Wednesday.'"

The extended wait for a decision, "ranks on the long side, but it doesn't indicate to me there is anything abnormal going on," said Mike Glazier, a Kansas City attorney who used to work for the NCAA and now represents schools investigated by the organization. "They're very deliberate."

USC officials have declined to discuss specifics of the case or the process. University spokesman James Grant said, "We're waiting just like everybody else," adding, "Everyone is taking it in stride just like we've done the last few months since the hearing."

While USC fans anxiously await the decision, Trojans coaches and players seem unfazed.

"We're taught not to worry about things we can't control," said fullback Stanley Havili, a fifth-year senior.

Said offensive lineman Kevin Graf, a redshirt freshman: "This happened, I think, when I was in like seventh grade, so there's no way I can control this. Whatever happens, we'll go from there. Right now none of us think about it."

Nor does the specter of possible NCAA sanctions seem to be adversely affecting football recruiting — even while rival programs keep raising it as an issue.

Last weekend, USC received a verbal commitment from Mission Viejo High linebacker Tre Madden. The Trojans also recently received non-binding commitments from Santa Ana Mater Dei High receiver Victor Blackwell and Crenshaw running back/defensive back De'Anthony Thomas, adding to a list that already included Mater Dei quarterback Max Wittek, Woodland Hills Taft defensive lineman Antwaun Woods and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman defensive lineman Jalen Grimble.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting about recruits until schools have received signed letters of intent. But speaking generally last week, USC Coach Lane Kiffin said the forthcoming NCAA decision was "still out there and being brought to the attention of our recruits very often by a few schools."

He added, "But I think anyone who's following recruiting would say SC is doing just fine."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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