The NCAA has decided to ban Southern California’s football team from the postseason for two years and strip the program of scholarships, according to multiple media reports.
The Los Angeles Times reported the NCAA sanctions include the loss of more than 20 scholarships.
USC is also expected to face probation and possible limits on football recruiting contacts after the NCAA’s four-year investigation into the school. ESPN.com reported Wednesday night that the Trojans will forfeit wins "from at least the 2004 season.”
The NCAA’s report will be released Thursday, although school officials wouldn’t confirm Wednesday they had received the NCAA’s report or planned to address it when it was made public. The NCAA infractions committee held a hearing with USC officials last February, and its report has been expected weekly since April.
"We are looking at things right now," USC athletic director Mike Garrett told the Times. "That’s about all I can say."
USC’s penalties are expected to stem primarily from widespread allegations of improper benefits for Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush during his three seasons at the school. The NCAA, the Pac-10 and even the FBI conducted investigations into the Bush family’s business relationships and USC’s responsibility for the culture around its marquee football team.
The Trojans’ football team won seven straight Pac-10 championships and two national titles during the past decade under Pete Carroll, who left to coach the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks after last season.
No BCS conference football programs have been banned from postseason play over the past seven years, but the NCAA has been expected to make an example of USC, one of the highest-profile programs in the country.
USC’s players are expected to be told about the sanctions at a meeting Thursday morning.
"For real it’s out of our hands but I’m praying that the things they are saying aren’t true,” senior linebacker Malcolm Smith wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday night.
Last year, the NCAA reportedly bundled its Bush probe with its look into the men’s basketball program. USC self-sanctioned the basketball program four months ago over its recruitment of former player O.J. Mayo by former coach Tim Floyd, who was accused of giving cash to a middleman who helped steer Mayo to USC. The Trojans banned themselves from postseason play last season, reduced their scholarships and limited their recruiting.