Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The University of South Carolina's athletics and academic leaders say they do not dispute the basic facts of the NCAA's "Notice of Allegations" looking into the sports program, and have offered a set of self-imposed penalties.
The school issued its formal response to college sports' governing body late Wednesday afternoon in a document that both acknowledges the violations and attempts to offer explanations and context for them. DOCUMENT: Read USC's Full Response to the Notice of Allegations
Back in September, the NCAA informed the school of possible violations in a letter to the university. In the notice, the NCAA said it found violations and a total of $55,000 in improper benefits.
The allegations involved the football, men's basketball, and track teams.
Specifically, the NCAA found fault with the way student-athletes were able to get leases and stay at the Whitney Hotel in Columbia at drastically reduced rates, and they objected to contact with recruits made by two members of the Student-Athlete Mentoring Foundation (S.A.M.)
S.A.M. is a charitable organization based out of Delaware. Earlier this year, current USC wide receiver Damiere Byrd was suspended for his contact with S.A.M.
In its response, the school said it does not contest the allegations, and that none of their employees knowingly disregarded NCAA legislation. In addition, the school feels the Office of Compliance Services made a "good-faith error" in approving the Whitney leases. Additionally, the school said the office didn't check to see if the rates being offered for extended stay were comparable to rates the school had paid in 2004.
The school also noted in its response that it does not believe it has a problem of failing to monitor its programs.
Since the NCAA notified the school of the allegations, USC officials said they've cut ties with the two S.A.M. employees, and stopped recruiting athletes tied to the organization.
Among the self-imposed penalties the school has put in place are the following:
- Reduction of six football scholarships over three years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15)
- Reduced visits for track and football recruiting
- $18,500 fine for having 4 ineligible football players compete during 2009-10
- 3 years probation
- Disassociation with two S.A.M. employees, Kevin Lahn and Steven Gordon
- Disassociation with Jamie Blevins, G.M. of the Whitney Hotel
- Written reprimand for assistant men's basketball coach Mike Boyton, and he will be restricted from recruiting in December of 2011
- Written reprimand for Head Track Coach Curtis Frye for attending a dinner cruise paid by Lahn, and allowing some of his players to attend the same event. In addition, Frye will get no bonus in 2011-12, no salary increase in 2012-13, and can't coach the 2012 Penn Relays.
- Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was faulted for not knowing that Gordon may have been engaging in impermissible recruiting activities. Mangus can't recruit off-campus in January 2012, will get no bonus in 2012-13, and will get no salary increase in 2013-14. He also received a written reprimand.
- Jennifer Stiles, the Director of Compliance, was demoted from her position for "significant errors in judgment" but will remain in the compliance office. Also given letter of reprimand.
In addition, the reprimanded employees will get further training on compliance rules. LINK: Read the letters describing the penalties in the supplemental exhibits provided by the school
"We continue to work in full cooperation with the NCAA on this very serious matter," Dr. Harris Pastides said in a statement. "As an institution, we established self-imposed penalties and implemented corrective actions."
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions will consider the response at their meeting in Los Angeles on February 17-18, 2012, where they will meet face-to-face with several top USC athletics officials, including Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier, Athletics Director Eric Hyman, and Frye.