USC football banned from bowl games for 2 yrs

LOS ANGELES The university's athletic program was placed on a four-year probation and the football program was stripped of 10 scholarships for each of the next three seasons.

The forfeited wins include the 2005 /*Orange Bowl*/, in which the Trojans defeated the Oklahoma Sooners to win the national championship.

The penalties stem from the /*National Collegiate Athletic Association*/'s investigation into alleged improper benefits that running back /*Reggie Bush*/ received while at USC.

The /*Heisman Trophy*/-winning player was on the USC football team from 2003 to 2005. Among other things, there was an investigation into reports that Bush's family lived rent-free in a San Diego home owned by a sports marketer.

Bush has denied any wrongdoing.

A USC official says the university accepts some of the penalties imposed by the NCAA against its football and basketball programs, but it intends to appeal sanctions it believes are excessive.

"We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them," says Todd Dickey, USC senior vice president for administration. "However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report."

The USC football program attracts some of the most talented players from across the country, but some say current players are having to pay the price for violations that took place long before they arrived at USC.

The Trojans won seven straight /*Pac-10*/ Conference Championships and two national titles under the leadership of Coach /*Pete Carroll*/. He left at the end of last season to become an NFL coach.

The NCAA hasn't banned a /*Bowl Championship Series*/ (BCS) Conference team from postseason play in years.

"It's going to be hard to swallow for guys," said Warren Tichner, a USC student. "For recruiting for the future, younger talented players that may have really wanted to come to SC next season may start to reconsider because they're going to want have a chance to go and shine on a bright stage right away."

As part of the investigation, the NCAA looked into the men's basketball team and its recruitment of former player /*O.J. Mayo*/. Former Coach /*Tim Floyd*/ was accused of giving money to a middleman, who helped steer Mayo to USC.

USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and imposed sanctions on itself, banning the team from postseason play last season.

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