The Trojans four year probation included a two year bowl ban and a 30 scholarship reduction over three years, a punishment that severely crippled USC’s most marketable programs. The punishment seemed unprecedented, as well as unfair to the likes of Haden.
“It’s been a long four years,” Haden told the L.A. Times, in speaking on the sanctions that stemmed from improper benefits given to Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. Haden defended USC in light of the ending sanctions by adding, “I will go to my grave thinking they were unfair, I’d be surprised if that kind of penalty will ever be imposed again.”
Haden’s frustration has validity due to the weak penalties equally high-profile schools such as Oregon, Miami, and Ohio State received, further validation of why the NCAA is heavily criticized for its inconsistency.
Pete Carroll, head coach during the NCAA’s investigation of the football program, also sounded off as the sanctions close. “The NCAA came back at the university … ‘Now we’re going to revisit after five years.’ I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn’t coming because they didn’t have anything to get us with. It wasn’t five days, it wasn’t five weeks. It was five years. Had we known that was imminent … I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem.”
Whether you believe Carroll or not (and many don’t), the constant still remains that USC caught a raw deal in comparison with other programs and their slap-on-the-wrist punishments. With USC getting back to somewhat normalcy by 2015, Haden has done his due diligence to keep their troubled programs afloat and now it may continue to rise under new leadership and new coaching regimes.
However, Haden does not believe that this is ultimately the end of the threat of sanctions. “You must be vigilant at all times.” Haden said.