Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

June 10, 2010

Pete Carroll ‘shocked’ by USC sanctions

RENTON, Wash. — Pete Carroll said he’s “absolutely shocked and disappointed” by the NCAA sanctions imposed on his former Southern California Trojans for improprieties surrounding running back Reggie Bush.

Speaking forcefully in a video produced by the Seahawks at team headquarters Thursday, the new Seattle coach blasted the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. He said it had an agenda against USC and the dynasty he restored over nine years, until Seattle hired him last January.

The NCAA banned USC from bowl games for two years, gave it four years’ probation, took away scholarships and forced it to forfeit an entire year’s games. USC plans to appeal some of the football-related penalties.

“The agenda of the NCAA’s infractions committee took them beyond the facts, and the facts don’t match the sanctions,” Carroll said. “I absolutely support the appeal by the university and will do everything I can to contribute to their efforts.”

Carroll, through the Seahawks, refused requests for an interview from The Associated Press.

He said when he took the Seattle job that he was not escaping NCAA penalties at USC, and that he was comfortable there wouldn’t be major ones.

“I never, ever thought it would come to this,” he said in the video. “I’m extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this right now.”

“Over years and years (of the investigation) I never thought there were any facts that supported these significant sanctions that have come forth. The primary issue throughout the process was, did the university know? The university didn’t know. We didn’t know. We were not aware of any of these findings.”

The NCAA faulted Carroll’s program for a “lack of institutional control.”

Yet the report mostly assails a USC assistant coach for knowing about Bush’s improper contacts with an agent and not reporting it.

It doesn’t blame Carroll for having anything to do specifically with Bush receiving improper benefits.

Instead, the NCAA cited Carroll for:

—Facilitating “amateurism violations, impermissible extra benefits” for arranging for USC players to work as summer interns for an agent.

—His program, for “failing to monitor the access of practices and facilities, including the locker room” by non-university personnel and agents.

—And his hiring of a former NFL coach as a “consultant.” The NCAA concluded he assisted Carroll in a way that caused USC to exceed the maximum allowable assistants on his staff.

Aside from an introductory reference that Carroll, identified as the “former head football coach,” attended USC’s three-day hearing in February before the NCAA’s infractions committee, he isn’t mentioned until page 30 of the 67-page document.

That’s after a lengthy detailing of Bush’s improper relationship with agents and running backs coach Todd McNair’s alleged knowledge of it.

Deep in its report, the NCAA states Carroll encouraged an agent to hire Trojans as interns for jobs in 2005 that weren’t posted externally or open to others. It quotes a second agent, certified by the NFL Players’ Association, as saying Carroll and the agent had agreed upon a summer internship program for as many as 10 USC football players.

The report says Carroll denied to the committee that he asked the agent to hire players as interns, though Carroll acknowledged he knew the agent.

The report states three Trojans, including Bush, ultimately worked as interns that summer for the agent.

Carroll’s practices at USC were renowned for their openness. Rapper Snoop Dogg was a regular. Actor Will Ferrell was on the sidelines during games. It was all part of the loose atmosphere Carroll fostered along with intense competition and national titles.

The NCAA found it way too loose.

“There was relatively little effective monitoring of, among others, football locker rooms and sidelines,” the report states, “and there existed a general postgame locker room environment that made compliance efforts difficult.”

Carroll insists he paid close attention to compliance issues.

“I think it’s important for you to know that in all aspects of the program we were vigilant in the way we approached every aspect,” he said in the video.

“This is clear-cut case of external elements outside the university entering in and disrupting the process of young student athletes going to college, for their gain. ...

“I feel terrible for the Trojan family that we have to go through this. But as always, we’ll be strong. We’ll keep our heads up, and we’ll keep fighting on. I’ll continue to support and cooperate with the appeals process, and do everything I can to help.

“Fight on.”

 

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