USC Hoops Should Be Thanking Gerrity, Johnson, and Lewis

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2010

USC received the official response from the NCAA regarding penalties to the men’s basketball team.  Jeff Goodman from posted a good succinct rundown of USC’s self-imposed penalties plus what the NCAA added today.  The penalties as described below are paraphrased from his article, but you should check out his article by clicking the link above.

Was it worth it?

Here is how USC stuck it to itself in the middle of last season:

  • They ditched one scholarship from last year and this upcoming season,
  • They reduced by one the number of coaches who could hit the road recruiting,
  • Took 20 days off their allowed recruiting time this year,
  • Vacated (a concept we hate) any wins in which O.J. Mayo played,
  • Gave back just over $200,000 they earned by being in the 2008 NCAA Tournament,
  • Let three kids out of their LOIs for the next season, and
  • Took a year off from both the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournaments.

More on that last one in a bit.  Here’s what the NCAA tacked on as far as basketball penalties today:

  • Four years of probation. It starts today, and it ends in exactly 1,461 days on June 9, 2014.  In other words, the NCAA  acknowledges you were bad.  It added some penalties.  But if you screw up any time in the next four years, they’re really going to be ticked.
  • Vacate all those post-season wins from the 2007-2008 season. USC won their first game in the Pac-10 tourney that year over Arizona State, then lost to UCLA.  Then, as a 6-seed, they lost to #11 Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament first round.  Total penalty there?  One win. Crippling.
  • Hold the Mayo.  USC must “disassociate” itself from O.J. Mayo and the guy who provided illegal benefits to Mayo, Rodney Guillory.  USC can’t take any donated money from him, can’t have him helping with recruiting, can’t have him do anything on behalf of the school.  That was probably happening anyway.  We can’t imagine that USC would have him out trumpeting the virtues of USC basketball.
  • If you’re not part of the team, get out. “Non-university personnel” can’t fly on charters, donate money, help with camps, go to practices, or hang out in the locker room during/after games.

Again, the last penalty listed there is interesting, because it will be tricky to adhere to, just as it will be tricky to enforce.  There will probably be lots of communication between USC Compliance (stop laughing) and the NCAA over the next several years about that.  All it’s really saying is that they have to quarantine themselves from “non-USC people.”  But the definition of a “USC person” is probably pretty wide-ranging.

The only real sanction that affects them going forward is the four years of probation.  There’s no TV ban, there’s no extended loss of scholarships, there’s no further post-season ban.  True, that bit about disassociating themselves from O.J. Mayo might prove costly if he pulls a Rajon Rondo-like delayed transformation and becomes one of the top guards in the NBA, but USC basketball should be very pleased.  As long as they keep their noses clean for the next four years, there’ll be no problems.

USC basketball fans owe Gerrity and his fellow seniors from last year a debt.

When USC unleashed the self-imposed sanctions on its basketball program last January, most people (including us) thought they were a little harsh, especially the post-season ban for a team that would almost certainly have made the NCAA Tournament.  Soon after began the talk from many experts that the athletic department was sacrificing the basketball program to save football, a totally logical way of thinking that was further engendered by the fact that, even though USC football was having one of their “worst” seasons in recent years, they still didn’t want to put any post-season bans on that prized possession known as the football team.  Heaven forbid.

Looking at what happened to USC football today, it’s obvious the NCAA didn’t fall for this straw man.  We can assume now that the self-imposed sanctions were evidently deemed by the NCAA as almost totally sufficient for basketball, and that the punishments were kept completely separate.  This basketball punishment now endorsed and finalized by the NCAA isn’t exactly a slap on the wrist, but it’s not the NCAA Pimp Hand of Death, either, and it’s much, much closer to the former. USC basketball was never going to save USC football — but it may have helped save USC basketball.

Forgotten in all of this are three gentlemen who should be revered by any and all fans of USC basketball: Mike Gerrity, Marcus Johnson, and Dwight Lewis.  They were the three seniors who lost their last opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament because of the self-imposed postseason ban last season.  Gerrity, who had just transferred in as part of his three-college career and performed beautifully for the basketball team, never got to play in an NCAA Tournament — all because the athletic department was seemingly hoping to reduce the eventual sanctions on the football side.  We’re not saying they should have their jerseys retired, or anything, but USC basketball supporters should find a way to remember those fellows for a long, long time.

A final point: we’ve never met Pete Carroll.  Our relationship with him is that he’s a college football coach and we’re college basketball bloggers.  In other words, there is no relationship, other than he’s famous and we know who he is.  He may be a prince of a man, and most people seem to think so, given all of the stories written and specials aired about him explaining what a great guy he is.  We’re in no position to confirm or refute any of that.  What we can say, though, is that the people who want to jump on folks like John Calipari or Kelvin Sampson or any player or coach who ever left a program right before it got hit with penalties from the NCAA now need to unleash that same glower at and think those same thoughts about Pete Carroll, and that’s not going to be easy for the majority of college sports fans.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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2 responses to “USC Hoops Should Be Thanking Gerrity, Johnson, and Lewis”

  1. tbrwfu says:

    ESPN might think Pete Carrol is a great guy, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us do.

  2. garik16 says:

    Good Article. Good Job by the NCAA and USC Basketball on this one…they didn’t let Football off light and meanwhile they will recover quickly in basketball. Which is good because it sure looks like USC’s competition in the Pac-16 is about to get a lot tougher faster.

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