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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 4, 2010

UH to pay price if USC pays penalty

By Ferd Lewis

Imagine the pent-up anxiety as the University of Southern California nervously awaits the NCAA's version of molasses justice.

And, picture, too, more than a little concern around the University of Hawai'i as the verdict draws near.

For all its 2,500-mile separation from the scene of the alleged transgressions, what might happen to USC as soon as today could impact UH more than anybody outside of University Park.

For sure, the Warriors, who open the 2010 season with the Trojans Sept. 2 at Aloha Stadium, could be the first to feel any wrath, if the NCAA decides to significantly slap around the USC football program.

The Warriors, who will be sizable underdogs as it is, really don't need the Trojans to come in with an NCAA-sized chip on their shoulder pads in a something-to-prove national TV game. Especially with a new head coach, Lane Kiffin, looking to project firepower and build an image.

Consider that the Trojans have won the last three meetings by a combined 186-56 with no real fury to propel them.

ESPN.com has reported that the NCAA Committee on Infractions will reveal its long-awaited findings today.

The Trojans have already acknowledged violations in their basketball program and self-imposed sanctions for money alleged to have been paid highly recruited guard O.J. Mayo.

New UH men's basketball coach Gib Arnold, who was a USC assistant, was not called before the NCAA committee on the matter, the Trojans said. UH said its conversations with the NCAA before Arnold's hiring indicated no involvement.

But the Trojans' worst-case scenario would be if the NCAA finds a lack of institutional control, or transgressions heavy enough to classify USC as a "repeat" major offender in football, both of which carry harsh penalties.

Repeat offender status comes when major penalties take place within a five-year span. USC was cited in 2001 for academic violations and has been under investigation for illegal benefits alleged to have been received by Heisman Trophy running back Reggie Bush in 2003-04.

So you understand the drama that has been building not just since USC went before the infractions committee almost four months ago, but in the two years since the Bush allegations surfaced.

Here, three months before the season opener, the Warriors really don't need the NCAA's help in adding to the degree of difficulty of this opener.