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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) USC’s Marqise Lee streaks past Utah defensive back Brian Blechen. Lee finished with 12 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Pac-12: USC Trojans end "trying" era of sanctions

One of the Pac-12's toughest athletics programs has tried to make do with a hand tied behind its back for the last four years.

On Tuesday, a number of harsh NCAA sanctions have ended for USC.

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Both the football and men's basketball programs there have reeled after separate investigations revealed that Heisman winner Reggie Bush and one-and-done star O.J. Mayo each received improper benefits. The revelations resulted in erased seasons, fines, postseason bans, roster attrition and coaching and administrative shake-ups.

USC athletic director Pat Haden released a statement Tuesday hoping the end of sanctions would be the final page in a difficult chapter of one of the nation's most high-profile college athletic programs. But he also was relastic: The legacy of those violations won't disappear quickly.

"Although our probation has ended, challenges remain because of the lingering effects of the sanctions," Haden said. "And we also must remain diligent when it comes to rules compliance. As a reminder, we have another year remaining in the five-year window of repeat violator status; another major violation could bring even more severe hardships."

USC has developed more rigid guideline in its compliance: They're strict about limiting contact between athletes and boosters, for example, and have a pretty involved credential system for games.

There is certainly some lingering bitterness from the football sanctions in particular, which Haden told the L.A. Times that "I will go to my grave thinking they were unfair." The severity of those punishments compared to scandals at Miami, Oregon and Ohio State sparked some outrage against the NCAA's consistency in enforcement.

From the L.A. Times' Gary Klein:

Ohio State players received free tattoos in exchange for jerseys and other items, and it was determined that then-coach Jim Tressel lied to NCAA investigators. The operator of a scouting service was paid $25,000 purportedly to steer players toward Oregon. And a Miami booster lavished Hurricanes athletes with cash and other perks.

The results of those cases: Ohio State lost nine football scholarships, Oregon two, and Miami - after the NCAA enforcement staff and administration botched parts of that investigation - lost nine.

"Anyone looking at this thing objectively saw a lot of inconsistency in the way the cases were handled," [Pac-12 commissioner Larry] Scott said.

A common thread in many explanations of USC's harsh punishments was the school's failure to cooperate fully with NCAA investigators, one of the reasons former AD Mike Garrett got the boot.

USC still has done relatively well behind its healthy booster corps, upgrading facilities and getting new coaches in Steve Sarkisian for football and Andy Enfield for basketball. There is some hope in Troy that the staff and facilities in place will offer room for growth and success.

The L.A. Times has a comprehensive package on the end of sanctions - read by clicking here.

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
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» Wildcats: Who's gonna be the QB?
» UA football: QB Patterson decommits from Arizona
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Tucson's streetcar leads to soccer

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» 5-star linebacker Houston checking out ASU
» Top 2016 tight end Naseir Upshur likes ASU
» ASU football overview: Defensive backs
» Why is Sendek watching film of VCU, Louisville?

California (East Bay Tribune)
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State
» Cal's injury-plagued defense mended, ready to go
» Local digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh Jennings wins World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Internazionale Milan scores 3-2 shootout victory over Real Madrid

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Pac-12 living up to tradition as tops in quarterbacks
» Changes in college football a cause of excitement and concern
» Pac-12 media days: Colorado eager to turn things around
» Colorado's MacIntyre at Pac-12 media days: "We will be improved"

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Brianne Theisen Eaton claims the heptathlon gold medal in the Commonwealth Games
» Is the Pac-12's schedule the 'most competitive' in college football?: Pac-12 roundup
» Oregon as the preseason favorite? That's fine with Stanford's David Shaw
» Oregon Ducks target Josh Sweat becomes ESPN's top-ranked football prospect, joining other future Ducks on the rise

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director
» Oregon State hands out Bennys to top athletes, coaches and teams
» OSU fishing: MacDonald, Martinez win conference tournament

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State
» Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery says he's close to being ready
» Local sports digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh captures World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Local digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh Jennings wins World Series of Beach Volleyball

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» College Football: Position coach Adrian Klemm says UCLA offensive line a work in progress
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Huskies fall camp position preview: Linebackers
» Morning links: More love for Huskies' Shaq Thompson
» Morning links: Pauley Pavilion flooded
» Huskies to open three fall-camp practices to the public

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Looking at the WSU pre-camp depth chart
» Washington works on body, mind
» Wednesday WSU chat
» To paraphrase Frank, it was a very good day



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