USC Trojans lose scholarships, face two-year postseason ban from NCAA

Reports from ESPN and the Los Angeles Times Thursday morning stating that the USC Trojans football program would face a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins when the NCAA released its sanctions for the university later in the day were confirmed by the organization at 3:00 p.m.

Specifically, USC will lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period (can only accept a maximum of 15 per season), may only have 75 players under scholarship at any given time in that same span, and will vacate the 2004 BCS National Championship and every victory from the 2005 season.

Though the NCAA could not force Southern California to relinquish its 2004 Orange Bowl win against the Oklahoma Sooners, the BCS came out Thursday evening and did just that. It is currently meeting to finalize a decision to have the 2004 title vacated; a new National Champion will not be named. Additionally, the Associated Press will not strip the program of its 2004 title.

Under investigation due to numerous violations in both the football and men’s basketball programs (specifically involving stars Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo), the Trojans had been awaiting a ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions for months. The postseason ban will specifically relate to the football team, but the NCAA has handed down penalties to the basketball program as well. The NCAA’s penalties are listed below:

Football:
– Two-year postseason ban; four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
– Loss of 30 scholarships over three years (maximum 15 allowed per season)
– Reduction of outstanding scholarships to 75 per year over three years
– Vacated 2004 BCS National Championship*
– Vacated 2005 season – new record: 0-1
– $5,000 fine
– Bush’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
– Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Basketball
Self-imposed
– One-year postseason ban from Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament (already served)
– One less scholarship for 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons
– Three recruits released from respective National Letters of Intent
– One less coach allowed to recruit for 2011 class
– 20 less days to recruit for 2011 class (from 130 to 110)
– Vacated 2007-08 season – new record 0-12
– $206,020 returned to NCAA as payment for 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance
NCAA-mandated
– Four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
– Mayo’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
– Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Women’s tennis:
– Former student-athlete used the athletic department’s long distance to make 123 calls (cost: $7,000) to her family during her admission
Self-imposed
– Vacated all wins from Nov. 2006 to May 2009 in which the player participated

As far as Bush’s Heisman Trophy goes, the NCAA could not strip him of the award, though the organization might. “The Heisman Trophy Trust will have a comment at the appropriate time,” the group said Thursday. “Until that time, it will have no comment.”

The NCAA’s report claims USC showed “a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits, and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.”

The Trojans have released statement through the university’s Sports Information Department stating that the university will appeal some of the penalties imposed by the NCAA. Due to this appeal, punishments will not go into affect until a decision is rendered – possibly delaying the inevitable and extending the school’s sentence. From Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration:

We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report.

We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.

Read the NCAA’s report on USC’s violations here

OGGOA will continue updating this story throughout the day.

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FOUR BITS: UM recruit blasts UF; Demar Dorsey

1 » Speaking about the Florida Gators coaching staff to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Miami Hurricanes three-star freshman linebacker Kevin Nelson (Gainesville, FL) decided to rip his hometown team. “Grimy, two-faced and disrespectful,” Nelson called the coaches. He also accused them of what some might call dirty recruiting by saying the coaches told him that “Miami hasn’t won any ACC championship[s] since going to the ACC, and that [head coach] Randy Shannon is going to leave after this year, and that I might not get any playing time.” Nelson claims he rejected an offer from Florida (many believe it was pulled), but also says he has always been a Miami fan.

2 » Canes three-star freshman cornerback Devont’a Davis (Gainesville, FL) added that the Gators disrespected him because they did not extend an offer to him – a hometown player and fan of the team. “It offended me that they didn’t make an offer because I’m the best cornerback in Florida and live down the street,” he said. This follows-up what he told Rivals on Sept. 21. “I’m real disappointed in Florida,” Nelson said of not having an offer at the time. “They didn’t even invite me to the Tennessee game, so that was very disappointing to me. So even if they do offer me, I’m out.”

3 » A former Florida commitment, five-star safety Demar Dorsey left the program just before National Signing Day, though the specifics of that split are still hazy. Dorsey claimed he decommitted, but it is widely believed that the Gators stopped recruiting him due to a variety of concerns (juvenile arrests) not including academics. He was expected to sign with either the Florida State Seminoles or Michigan Wolverines and eventually chose the latter. New reports out of Ann Arbour, MI, state Dorsey is out as a member of the incoming class even though he qualified academically with the NCAA. ESPN called him “in limbo.” Dorsey would have the choice to go to another program with an open scholarship (the Seminoles are rumored) or sign with a junior college.

4 » Former Florida guard Orien Greene has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for tamping with urine samples he submitted for a drug test while playing professional basketball in Amsterdam. Greene allegedly used another person’s urine when providing his sample. However, he only has a year of suspension remaining because he was initially suspended on March 12, 2009. Greene started his college career with the Gators before transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette. He played for Sacramento, Indiana and Boston in the NBA before playing in Europe.

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ATH Travon Van headed to Marshall instead

Former Florida Gators four-star athlete commitment Travon Van (New Berlin, NY) has enrolled in summer classes at Marshall University with hopes of improving his grades in order to qualify academically to play next season for the Marshall Thundering Herd, according to numerous sources.

Van, who moved from California to New York to attend Milford Academy in order to improve his grades so he could enroll early at Florida, was denied admission in January due to an academic qualification issue. He kept his commitment to the Gators – spurning suitors like West Virginia – and hoped to enroll during the summer session.

OGGOA has confirmed that Van has been released from his National Letter of Intent primarily due to his inability to qualify academically but also because of depth concerns.

He has since signed with the Thundering Herd to play under head coach Doc Holliday, the former associate head coach and safeties coach at Florida from 2005-07.

Van’s summer grades at Marshall will determine whether or not he will be eligible for the 2010-11 season; if they do not improve, he may be forced to sit out a year.

Photo Credit: MaxPreps.com

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TWO BITS: Beal to Minnesota, Florida loses Hale

1 » Following up on OGGOA’s exclusive report from May 12 stating that former Florida Gators linebacker Brendan Beal would be transferring to another school, it has now been confirmed the former four-star high school recruit will be playing for the Minnesota Gophers in 2011-12 after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations. Beal, who received a medical hardship redshirt from the NCAA, will actually have three years of eligibility left when he finally suits up for Minnesota. Asked by GopherHole.com to comment on his reason for transferring out of Florida, Beal declined. “Sorry, I would not like to comment on that,” he said.

2 » Though the Gators were only one of his 17 scholarship offers, Florida (along with Penn State) was in the final three for four-star defensive tackle Joel Hale (Greenwood, IN). Unfortunately for head coach Urban Meyer, Hale publicly committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes Monday evening, becoming the school’s second commit in under a week. At 6’4” and 290 lbs., Hale’s commitment is No. 14 for the Buckeyes, one that will help them immediately get more athletic on the front line.

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Florida commits ranked as 2011 ratings released

While some programs are racking up 2011 commitments early, the Florida Gators are taking a more concerted approach, sporting a foursome of four-star players set to join the team next season. ESPNU and Rivals have both come out with their first round of high school football recruit rankings within the last week, each with a different perspective of where the Gators’ current commitments fall.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL)
No. 14 – ESPNU (No. 1 QB)
No. 31 – Rivals (No. 1 QB)

Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC)
No. 19 – ESPNU (No. 4 DE)
No. 25 – Rivals (No. 3 DE)

Tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL)
No. 66 – ESPNU (No. 7 ATH)
No. 89 – Rivals (No. 6 TE)

Athlete De’Ante Saunders (Deland, FL)
No. 74 – ESPNU (No. 8 ATH)
Outside top 250 – Rivals

Though Pagan is noted on the above list, he has come out publicly and said that he will be taking a number of official visits before his commitment is 100 percent solid to Florida. He is interested in schools closer to home but also has big-name programs like USC, Ohio State, Georgia and Tennessee vying for his services.

Rivals’ Mark Wheeler notes that the Gators are either targeting, being prominently mentioned by or in the mix for 29 more of the company’s top 100 recruits, including four players in the top 10: No. 2 linebacker Tony Steward (St. Augustine, FL), No. 3 ATH James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL), No. 7 offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, MA) and No. 8 LB Curtis Grant (Richmond, VA).

Photo Credit: ESPN

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TWO BITS: Ingram’s return, Rivers’ planned visits

1 » Last week, former Florida Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram opened up to the Philadelphia Enquirer about his recovery from a second ACL surgery and ambition about returning to the practice field for the Philadelphia Eagles. Thursday, he spoke with the Associated Press about the same subject. “Any time you get hurt, suffer a major injury, it’s going to be tough,” Ingram said. “When it’s the same injury, the same part of your body, it’s tougher. [It was] terrible, just terrible. But what could I do, except rehab, and work hard to get back.” Ingram now says he is 100 percent healthy and is practicing at full speed. “It feels great,” he said. “Mentally, you have to get that confidence back; you have to learn to trust your knee. It’s scary, because it’s always in the back of your mind, especially when it’s happened twice. But right now I have the confidence. I’m ready to go. I couldn’t wait to get back on the field here. Now, I can’t wait to get to training camp.”

2 » In his latest Dime Magazine hoop diary, five-star 2011 guard recruit and former Gators commitment Austin Rivers once again discusses his recruitment. “I still keep in touch with Coach K at Duke and Coach [Billy] Donovan at Florida,” Rivers said in the middle of the piece. “I only get five official visits so I want to definitely go back to Duke. I’ve got to go to UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida, too.” Previously, Rivers had not mentioned taking an official visit to Florida, seemingly because he knew the program so well. Apparently that has changed.

Extra Bit » Former Gators and NFL star Ike Hilliard has been named the wide receivers coach of the UFL’s Florida Tuskers according to a press release from the league. He was a volunteer assistant coach on the team last season and was recently hired to a full-time position by new Tuskers head coach Jay Gruden.

Photo Credit: Tracy Wilcox/The Gainesville Sun

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FOUR BITS: Rosario, Andrews, softball, NFL

1 » ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario, who was hoping to enroll at the University of Florida for its Summer A session, will instead join the Florida Gators for Summer B as he is stuck in New Jersey finishing classes. “Rosario might end up being one of the most important transfers Donovan has had in his career,” Katz wrote. “[He] will push Kenny Boynton in practice every day.”

2 » Former Gators dazzler and ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews finished third in her quest to win ABC‘s Dancing with the Stars competition. Andrews got further than many expected on the program and is rumored to have begun a relationship with her dance partner on the show. She is currently in the process of finalizing a new contract (including a significant raise) with the Worldwide Leader in Sports and hopes to expand her horizons beyond college sports and baseball.

3 » Two Florida softball players – juniors pitcher Stephanie Brombacher and outfielder Kelsey Bruder – have been named 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans by the College of Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Named to the third- and second-teams, respectively, each earned at least a 3.30 GPA.

4 » Former Gators inside linebackers Channing Crowder and Andra Davis were both in the news Wednesday. A report from the Sun-Sentinel states that Crowder may begin the season on the Miami Dolphins’ physically unable to perform list if his foot does not heal properly, while another from the Buffalo News infers that Davis is set to start for the Buffalo Bills alongside Paul Posluszny.

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FOUR BITS: Shipman playing football, two signees

1 » According to his father, former Florida Gators guard Ray Shipman, who transferred from the basketball team just a few weeks ago, has decided to switch sports. Rather than transfer to play basketball, Shipman will leave to try his hand at playing football – more specifically the position of safety. Shipman was named the state of Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 2008 but never really established himself on the college level.

2 » No. 4 Gators baseball (40-13) will begin the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament as a No. 1 seed Wednesday night against the defending national champion LSU Tigers (36-20). The double-elimination event, which is being played in Hoover, AL, will feature Florida in its third game and is set to air live on CSS at 5:30 p.m. The Gators swept the Tigers during the regular season, outscoring them 28-14 in three home games from April 30 to May 2.

3 » Florida softball signed a fifth player to their 2010 signing class on Tuesday, receiving a National Letter of Intent from Ashley Snedeker (Bloomington, MN). “Ashley is a very good addition to our 2011 roster,” head coach Tim Walton said in a release. “She is dynamic and is going to provide us with some athleticism at the plate and in the field. She is a proven winner at every level, and I am really excited to add her to our program.”

4 » Also signing a National Letter of Intent with the Gators Tuesday was sprinter Darshay Davis (Miramar, FL), who is joining the school’s women’s track & field team. “I would like to make the biggest impact as possible as a freshman next season,” Davis told the Miami Herald. “I know I will have more competition. I won’t be on top, but I expect to run pretty fast. At least finish top eight indoors and outdoors in the SEC and NCAA.”

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