Source: USC football gets 2-year ban

Updated: June 10, 2010, 2:22 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The USC football program will receive a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins from at least the 2004 season when the NCAA releases its sanctions on Thursday, a source told ESPN's Shelley Smith.

The Los Angeles Times reported the NCAA sanctions include the loss of more than 20 scholarships.

ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman confirmed the two-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships from a second USC source.

USC will respond Thursday to the NCAA's findings following its investigation into possible violations by the Trojans' football and men's basketball programs, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon that he hadn't heard yet about any further sanctions for the basketball program.

"We should know this afternoon," he said.

Last year, the NCAA reportedly bundled its Reggie Bush investigation with its look into the men's basketball program. USC imposed its own sanctions on the basketball program four months ago over its recruitment of former player O.J. Mayo by former coach Tim Floyd. Floyd was accused of giving cash to a middleman who helped steer Mayo to USC.

The Trojans banned themselves from NCAA basketball postseason play last season, reduced their scholarships and limited their recruiting.

"I have a great love for the University of Southern California and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players," Bush said in a statement.

"I am disappointed by [Thursday's] decision and disagree with the NCAA's findings. If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on making a positive impact for the University and for the community where I live," Bush said.

There is no news conference scheduled for Thursday. According to an SID at USC, the school plans to issue a statement in response to any NCAA announcement addressing penalties. A different source had said earlier in the day that the school would have a news conference following the NCAA announcement.

The NCAA infractions committee held a hearing in February in which USC presented its responses to allegations of NCAA violations. Results of the report have been expected for several weeks.

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 football players will be informed about the sanctions at a mandatory meeting Thursday morning, a source told Feldman.

"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.

Once released, USC would have a chance to appeal.

USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.

The school's football team is under investigation for its dealing with Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bush, who played at the school from 2003 to '05. If Bush is found retroactively ineligible, the Heisman Trust could strip him of his 2005 award.

The NCAA and investigators from the Pac-10 Conference have tried to determine whether Bush and his parents took improper benefits, including an alleged rent-free residence provided by a sports marketer. Bush has not met with NCAA and Pac-10 investigators and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

USC chose to contest the allegation against the football program, hoping to overcome the perception of a lack of institutional control, which could result in significant sanctions, including scholarship reductions, TV and postseason bans, recruiting restrictions and probation.

If USC is found guilty of major violations, the NCAA also could rule that the Trojans are "repeat violators." Per NCAA rules, "An institution shall be considered a 'repeat' violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty."

The athletic program was last sanctioned in August of 2001.

Information from ESPN's Shelley Smith and Joe Schad, ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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