USC will appeal punishments

Hit where it hurts by the NCAA, USC is prepared to fight on.

After reviewing the NCAA Committee on Infractions report, the school on Thursday announced it will appeal those penalties it deems excessive — principally, the two-year ban placed on its football program.

“We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report,” said Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration.

USC was satisfied that the NCAA accepted the school’s self-imposed punishments for its men’s basketball and women’s tennis teams, both of which were found guilty of infractions. But the severe blow to its marquee program, crippled as a result of 2005 Heisman Award winner Reggie Bush’s dealings with an agent, is another story.

“We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions," Dickey said. "We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.”

“There is a systemic problem facing college athletes today: unscrupulous sports agents and sports marketers,” Dickey stated. “The question is how do we identify them and keep them away from our student-athletes? To provide us with recommendations about the best way to protect our student-athletes and their families from those who seek to violate the rules, we have retained the Freeh Group, headed by former federal judge and ex-FBI director Louis Freeh.

“Our success in athletics and the outstanding individuals we recruit make our student-athletes an attractive target for those seeking to take unfair advantage of them. We cannot and will not tolerate this. Our program must set the highest standards in the country. USC deserves that and our 640 student-athletes deserve that.”