The New Trojan War

Last Updated on April 18, 2011

The first Trojan War was an epic tale of Greek Mythology.  This Trojan War is every bit reality, even though it resembles a nightmare for the University of Southern California.

It’s official now, via a news conference by the NCAA at 3 p.m. EST.  The USC Trojans are banned from postseason bowl games for two years.  Moreover, they will lose thirty scholarships over the next three years and all wins from December 2004 through the 2005 season have been vacated.  The sanctions are in response to an investigation of former USC football phenom, Reggie Bush.  Gary Klein and Mike Hiserman have done a great job of reconstructing the timeline of events here if you’re interested in the details.

In terms of Reggie Bush, most expect the committee that awards the Heisman Trophy to strip him of that honor.  The crux of the NCAA’s decision rests on the fact that Bush was found to be ineligible at the time, which would make him ineligible for the Heisman Trophy.  The BCS is also expected to strip USC of their national championship from the 2004 season.

The war isn’t over yet, however.  USC may still appeal the decision to the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.  This committee can modify or overturn a ruling only if one of the following has occured: 1) the ruling by the Committee on Infractions was contrary to the evidence, 2) no rules were actually broken by the player or school at issue, 3) there was a procedural error by the Committee on Infractions that caused the result, or 4) the penalty is found to be excessive or an abuse of discretion.  The ruling by the Infractions Appeals Committee would be the final word on this subject from the NCAA.

So what happens if the USC Trojans repeat history and lose this new Trojan War?  Well, it could certainly have some long-term effects on USC football.  Jesse Palmer spoke of ESPN’s Sports Center today about this issue and compared USC’s current situation to the University of Miami faced in the mid-90s.  Much like USC, Miami had been a perennial contender at the time.  In 1995, Miami faced sanctions for multiple violations and was banned for one year from postseason play and had scholarships reduced by 24 over a three-year period.  Miami did not appear in a National Championship game again until 2002.

The effects from these sanctions could linger for years at USC.  Most certainly, their recruiting will be negatively impacted because of their postseason ban and reduction in scholarships.  Also some have speculated that in the written report the NCAA may allow those players with two or less years of eligibility to transfer to other schools without having to wait a year to meet the residency requirement normally applicable to transfers.

College football will certainly look different this fall with USC absent from postseason play and the conference realignment that is currently in flux.  Now we wait with baited breath for how the BCS will respond.

This article offers the personal observations of Kristi Dosh, and does not represent the views of her law firm or its clients. Any information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Consult your own attorney for legal advice on these matters.


  • Kristi Dosh

    Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more

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