USC fires baseball coach for NCAA violations

LOS ANGELES  — USC fired baseball coach Frank Cruz for knowingly violating NCAA rules that limit the number of hours athletes can spend in activities directed or supervised by the coaching staff, Athletic Director Pat Haden said.

Dan Hubbs, in his second season as the Trojans’ associate head coach and pitching coach, was named head coach for a team that opens its season Friday against Cal State Fullerton.

USC, which is on NCAA probation for violations related to former football player Reggie Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo, also announced that it had self-imposed a reduction in the number of baseball practice hours for this season and next year.

“Adhering to all NCAA rules is paramount for each one of our coaches, student-athletes and staff members,” Haden said in a statement posted on the school’s website. “Those who knowingly break NCAA rules are subject to termination.”

USC said Cruz violated the NCAA’s “countable athletically related activities limitations,” but an athletic department spokesman declined to specify the violations. According to NCAA bylaws, athletes are limited to four hours per day and 20 hours per week of countable athletically related activities during their seasons. In the off-season, they are limited to eight hours per week with not more than two hours per week spent on skill-related workouts. NCAA baseball rules also limit the number of athletes that can be involved in skill-related instruction with coaches during various times of the year.

Wednesday’s announcement came less than a week after USC suspended Cruz, pending an investigation by USC’s compliance staff.

Cruz could not be reached for comment.

In August 2010, Cruz was in his second stint as a Trojans assistant when Haden fired former coach Chad Kreuter less than a week after taking over as athletic director. Haden named Cruz interim coach for the 2011 season and the Trojans finished 25-31.

Nevertheless, Haden hired Cruz full time. Last season, USC finished 23-32 overall and 8-22 in the Pac-12 Conference.

Hubbs, 42, pitched for USC from 1991 to ’93 and was an All-American in 1993. He played professionally and coached at California for seven years before joining USC’s staff before last season.

USC has won a record 12 College World Series titles but has not qualified for the NCAA tournament since 2005.

 “I’m confident that Dan Hubbs and his staff will lead our team to a successful season,” Haden said. “Dan is a good coach, he is highly regarded in the baseball community and he has strong Trojan roots.”

-Gary Klein