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.

Taylor wins 2010 NCAA Outdoor Triple Jump title

The track and field teams will continue to work hard to bring home the event’s overall titles over the next few days, but Florida Gators sophomore jumper Christian Taylor made an initial splash Wednesday by capturing the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in men’s triple jump at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR.

The two-time defending NCAA Indoor Champion in the triple jump, Taylor leapt 17.09m/56-1 (+2.9) to set the 2010 American mark and win the title – the first in school history.

“Getting the outdoor title means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “Heading into the finals, I knew I needed to step up and get the job done and I’m glad I was able to do it.”

As a team, the Gators men’s squad (the 2010 NCAA Indoor Champions) is in second place through two events. Their 13 points are one behind the leaders, Texas A&M.

Also in action Wednesday were Florida’s sprinters. Sophomore Jeff Demps led the men’s 4×100-meter relay team – including junior Chris Rainey, senior Jeremy Hall and junior Terrell Wilks – to an event-leading 38.94-second time in the preliminary round, advancing the unit to the finals at 1:11 p.m. on Saturday.

Demps, who won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship in the men’s 100-meter dash, came in second during preliminaries in the event at 10.15 seconds (+2.2). He will compete in the event finals at 8:25 p.m. on Friday.

Senior sprinter Calvin Smith also won a trip to the finals Wednesday; he advanced in the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 45.64 seconds – good for fourth. Smith will race just after Demps, at 9:25 p.m. on Friday.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Wary Patriots play it safe with Hernandez’s deal

On Tuesday, the New England Patriots and former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez came to terms on a four-year contract. Details of the fourth-round pick’s deal have now been revealed, and some of the specifics of his $2.49 million agreement are revealing to say the very least.

According to The Boston Globe, Hernandez will only receive a $200,000 signing bonus, well below that of what last year’s fourth-round tight ends were paid and less than half of the $508,000 given to a draft pick taken four slots ahead of him in 2010. Instead, the remainder of his guaranteed money will be paid as roster bonuses – money he will receive if he makes the team for the subsequent years of his contract.

Hernandez will be paid $76,000 in 2010, $90,000 in 2011, $104,000 in 2012 and $118,000 in 2013 as long as he dons Patriots colors to begin those respective seasons. This provision was likely included in his deal because of character concerns stemming from the revelation that he tested positive for marijuana and failed at least one drug test while at the University of Florida. Splitting up his signing bonus allows the team to save money if he is suspended due to the NFL’s substance abuse program or the New England brass decide to cut him from the team for another reason.

He will earn $320,000 in base salary in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in 2013. As a rookie, Hernandez can bring home a total of $620,000 if he remains with the team for the entire 2010 season.

All together, Hernandez’s deal provides him with the ability to earn as much as a third-round draft selection as long as he produces on the field and keeps his nose clean.

Photo Credit: The Boston Herald

FOUR BITS: All-American, All-Tourney, charity

1 » Florida Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana, pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson, third baseman Austin Maddox and pitcher Hudson Randall were all named to the 2010 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team as chosen by Collegiate Baseball on Wednesday. All four players were also selected for the 2010 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team, with Maddox leading the pack by earning 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

2 » Gators softball’s freshman utility player Brittany Schutte was named to the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team on Tuesday. Her 6-9 performance with three home runs in three games was an outstanding accomplishment that made her the first Florida freshman in school history to be given this honor.

3 » Gators football is set to host the third annual Gator Charity Challenge on Friday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The event features members of the team, representing six different charities, squaring off against each other in three strength competitions (such as tire rolling). All of the organizations this year are affiliated with Shands Hospital – Shands Cancer Hospital, American Cancer Society, STOP! Children’s Cancer, Ronald McDonald House, American Heart Association and March of Dimes – and are being captained by seniors safety Ahmad Black, defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, LB A.J. Jones, DT Terron Sanders and defensive end Duke Lemmens, respectively.

4 » The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rates (APR) have been released for the 2008-09 school year, and Florida is looking good in its rankings. The Gators are situated at No. 3 in their multiyear APR (2005-08) in both football (971) and basketball (956), behind only Vanderbilt (No. 1 in both), Georgia (No. 2 football) and Alabama (No. 2 basketball).

Photo Credit: University of Florida

FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey has been underwhelming since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having only compiled 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the league, he is taking the coaching staff’s belief in him to heart by shedding some weight and becoming a more athletic player. “I thought bigger was better,” Harvey told the Florida Times-Union. “Speed is better. You’ve got to be rushing all day, and you can’t be 280 [pounds] rushing in this heat. […] It’s all on me. I’ve got to perform.” General manager Gene Smith agrees. “I think a couple of things are evident out there,” he said. “He’s probably in the best shape of his life, and he’s lighter this year, so I think you’re seeing some quickness off the snap. And he has better bend coming off the corner. He has shown better flexibility, better quickness and has been better at getting to the quarterback than in any OTAs since he’s been here.

Three more BITS on Thaddeus Bullard’s debut on WWE NXT, 2010 baseball signees picked in the MLB Draft and Tim Tebow…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

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.

Patriots ink TE Hernandez to four-year contract

The New England Patriots have signed former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez, the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, to a four-year deal, according to The Boston Herald. Though specifics of his contract have not yet been released, Hernandez will likely receive $2-3 million over four years with approximately a $500,000 signing bonus.

Recent reports have stated that Hernandez has a solid opportunity to earn playing time in 2010 both as an H-back and tight end who lines up wide and in the slot.

He has been working extensively with quarterback Tom Brady and may even see the field ahead of New England’s second-round pick, tight end Rob Gronkowski.

OGGOA RELATED: Wary Patriots play it safe with Hernandez’s deal

Photo Credit: The Boston Herald

Chapman, den Dekker selected in 2010 MLB Draft

Two Florida Gators seniors – reliever Kevin Chapman and outfielder Matt den Dekker – were selected on the second day of the 2010 MLB Draft on Tuesday.

Chapman, picked No. 119 overall by the Kansas City Royals, is a left-handed pitcher with a high-90s fastball and solid temperament. The Gators’ closer this season, he has earned 11 saves and posted a 1.28 ERA and 0.99 K/9 in 42.1 innings.

The New York Mets selected den Dekker with the No. 152 overall pick in the draft. Having already posted a .361 average with 13 home runs and 48 RBI this season, den Dekker improved 11 rounds after being pick No. 475 in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As many as five other Florida baseball players could be selected in this year’s draft, which may go as deep as 50 rounds.

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