It’s been over three months since the NCAA Infractions Committee met with USC officials for a hearing. The typical lapse between an infractions hearing and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA is six to 10 weeks, but this case has taken much longer. The LA Times suggests the long wait is due to logistics and there’s no question the NCAA wants to get it right. Why might they be taking extra time to ensure their sanctions are well reasoned? They could be facing an unprecedented legal response from USC in appeals if the penalties are too harsh.
Even though the Trojans are optimistic as they await word from the NCAA, I’m told they have a backup plan in case things don’t work out as well as hoped. Sources close to the USC athletic program and familiar with the legal proceedings say the school’s attorneys are planning to challenge the NCAA’s ability to sanction them. The source noted that USC has the legal and financial resources to put up this type of “groundbreaking” effort.
The obvious question at this point is: under what grounds could USC possibly challenge the NCAA’s sovereignty in the matter? It’s possible that USC would file their appeal under the umbrella of the public policy doctrine, if not something else. Should USC appeal the sanctions handed down by the NCAA under these grounds, they wouldn’t be the only ones challenging the NCAA’s power; Ed O’Bannon is leading a class-action suit against the NCAA regarding the use of former athletes images and likenesses for profit.Google+