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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)
» UA football: Should Arizona schedule harder nonconference games?
» Can you top these UA football memes?
» Hansen: Arizona vs. Cal
» UA volleyball: Arizobal has keyed UA's success

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU football practice report from Thursday
» Teofilo, Westerman power ASU offensive line
» ASU football chat with Doug Haller
» Doug Haller's Week 3 Pac-12 power rankings

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal finds out Saturday if 2-0 start is for real
» Fact box: Cal at Arizona
» Jeff Tedford's recruits finding delayed success at Cal
» Sonny Dykes: Cal's confidence rooted in hard work

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Speedy freshman Donovan Lee gives CU Buffs another playmaker
» Colorado coached to avoid coin-toss glitches, MacIntyre says
» Colorado's MacIntyre gratified Buffs practiced hard Monday
» CU Buffs tackle Jeromy Irwin might play vs. Hawaii after concussion

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» Why the Washington State Cougars can stop the Oregon Ducks: What they're saying in Washington
» Pharaoh Brown takes the reins in Oregon Ducks' tight end race
» Alex Ofodile, Oregon Ducks signee, accepts Under Armour All-American jersey

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State roundup (Sept. 19)
» OSU men's basketball: Tinkle says positive steps being made
» Spencer to become new AD at Evansville
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford coach David Shaw goes digging
» Cal, Stanford Pac-12 men's basketball schedules announced
» Local sports digest: Stanford's Maverick McNealy ties for medalist honors
» Local sports digest: Stanford sweeps Santa Clara

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» 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
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

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)
» Game prediction: For the Huskies, a meaningful warmup before a meaningful test
» Huskies morning links: UW still searching for next great punt returner
» Huskies release latest chapter of video series 'The Pursuit'
» UW volleyball rolls past Maryland in Big Ten/Pac-12 showcase

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Week four Pac-12 picks
» Just tell me who won
» Friday Pac-12 links
» Ferris defeats University High 45-36



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