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Pat Haden meets with NCAA to seek easing of penalties against USC

Trojans Athletic Director Pat Haden says the meeting was scheduled before the NCAA relaxed sanctions against Penn State, but he notes that as one reason some scholarships should be restored.

September 26, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC Athletic Director Pat Haden has met with NCAA officials to discuss the possibility of having the university's scholarship losses reduced.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden has met with NCAA officials to discuss the… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden frustrated some USC fans by not publicly challenging the NCAA after the school's appeal of sanctions related to Reggie Bush was denied. But now he has gone on the offensive.

Haden announced Thursday that he and David Roberts, USC's vice president for athletic compliance, met with NCAA officials this week and discussed the possible reduction of scholarship losses that were imposed on the Trojans in 2010.

Haden revealed the meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert and members of his management team in a statement that was posted on USC's Athletic Department website.

Haden said the meeting, which took place Wednesday and Thursday in Indianapolis, had been scheduled before the NCAA announced Tuesday that it would restore some of the scholarships it took from Penn State's football program in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The NCAA cited Penn State's "continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity" in relaxing the scholarship losses.

In June 2010, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions hit USC with some of the strongest penalties in college football history. Each year for three years, USC's annual scholarship limit was reduced and the Trojans are limited to 75 scholarship players on the roster, 10 fewer than the maximum. The penalties end after the 2014 season because USC delayed implementation by appealing.

USC's appeal of some of the penalties was denied in May 2011.

In his statement Thursday Haden said, "As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases. I also believe the sanctions have resulted in unintended consequences both for our football program and our student-athletes."

Haden noted that because of attrition, USC has fewer than 60 scholarship players dressing for games.

"Although USC had two unsuccessful bites at the apple (the original COI hearing and the appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee), given the changing landscape impacting intercollegiate sports over the past year, the recent action regarding Penn State, the impact of the sanctions on our program and the efforts we have undertaken at USC to compete with integrity, we again argued for some consideration regarding the 2010 sanctions during the last year of our penalty," Haden said.

Haden said the NCAA asked USC to "provide additional information and indicated it would study our suggestions. Because time is of the essence regarding these issues, we have asked for the NCAA's response as soon as practical."

After practice Thursday, USC Coach Lane Kiffin said, "obviously, any change would be good news for us" and credited Haden for making a push.

"This is not the first time, over time, that Pat has really worked with the NCAA on this issue to try to help us … meet somewhere in the middle, I guess, is the way to say it," Kiffin said.

Haden, in addressing his interactions with the NCAA, also said that there had been a "positive resolution of the Joe McKnight/Davon Jefferson matter earlier this year."

The Times reported in September 2012, that Scott Schenter, a key figure in an ongoing corruption scandal at the Los Angeles County assessor's office, said he gave cash and perks worth thousands of dollars to former USC running back McKnight and former basketball player Jefferson.

A USC Athletic Department spokesperson said the situation was "accepted and processed as a secondary violation with no further action." The NCAA did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Quick hits

Zach Banner, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, will have hip surgery, and sophomore defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. (knee), and redshirt freshman cornerback Devian Shelton (foot) also will sit out the rest of the season, Kiffin said. All will redshirt….Tailback Silas Redd, who has not played this season, will make the trip to Arizona State. Kiffin said he hoped Redd would play.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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