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USC Football: Potential Punishments For Trojans Joe McKnight & Davon Jefferson?

Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Joe McKnight (25) walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Joe McKnight (25) walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

One of the main issues that USC fans will have to worry about this offseason is whether the Trojans will actually get punished for what happened with regards to Joe McKnight and Davon Jefferson, particularly now that the NCAA has begun probing the issue. The fact that two more Trojan athletes have been accused of receiving improper benefits would seem to be damning evidence that could lead to a harsh sentence.

However, as is usually the case with the NCAA, it will probably depend on how they feel USC has changed from the last time they handled the case. Mike Garrett was reportedly defiant and negligent in his handling of the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo proceedings, and it resulted in the governing body of college athletics smacking the Trojans with stunning penalties. Supposedly Pat Haden has struck a more conciliatory tone, and that could very well be what saves his program from the harshest punishments.

Former college compliance director John Infante talked with Scott Enyeart at Neon Tommy about how USC's proactive stance in compliance could save them.

I think it's going to be a lot of help to them, the NCAA finding that USC had cooperated. I think that's kind of an important point from the original Reggie Bush case, that SC was uncooperative or was withholding information from the NCAA. And it says specifically in the final report that the NCAA met its obligations to report.

Look at how SC's relationship is much more than simply fulfilling their duties as a member. It is much more working with the NCAA to get this problem under control. It's not just the measures they have taken in this specific case, with this one athlete.

If you look at what they have done more generally, in terms of beefing up their compliance staff, going really above and beyond what any other school is doing in compliance monitoring and compliance systems. And then working with the NCAA to also raise awareness of issues like money that goes to agents, in different meetings that you've seen on the SC campus that the athletic department has been involved with.

The penalties mentioned are significant only if USC is shown to qualify for repeat violator status, in which case USC could very well be hit with similar penalties that they incurred from the Reggie Bush case (i.e. bowl bans, massive scholarship reductions, etc.). Even a few more scholarships could be lost, which given USC's current status would gravely impair their ability to stay competitive for national championships if injuries are incurred.

However, if the Trojans managed to avoid repeat violator status, then it could all depend on how much the NCAA believes USC has cleaned up its act with regards to compliance, and that might very well put them in a better spot.

SB Nation Snippets

brdcstr of Conquest Chronicles believes USC fans shouldn't fret quite yet.

At this point, citing USC for Joe McKnight's private dalliance with a non-booster 'marketing entrepreneur' wannabe would also be tantamount to imposing double jeopardy on the University and football program, since USC was already cited with the dreaded Lack of Institutional Control charge.

Radical reforms have since been put in place, making USC's compliance department a standard bearer in college sports for others to follow. Schenter even admits that USC at the time denied him approval of wrapping his van with pictures of USC players, so it's not like they were co-conspirators in facilitating impermissible benefits.

The fact that he relished the idea of USC being placed on probation for his actions in an e-mail to Neil Papiano, followed by the obligatory "USC Sucks", aptly shows Schenter to be a predator who was in this for Schenter alone.

If the NCAA punishes USC for the actions of a fan hell-bent on the subterfuge of a conference opponent, then they've essentially declared open season for predators to sabotage any opponent they care to target for whatever reason.