The Gamecocks received a notice of allegations today from the NCAA. The investigation is related to the Whitney Hotel and the S.A.M. foundation situations.
Obviously, this is never a good thing, but I don't think it's going to be as bad as it may seem right now. The dollar amounts being reported look bad, but there is more to this story than meets the eye. I had a few minutes to look briefly through the letter's contents, and here are my general impressions:
-The NCAA is charging us USC with "failure to monitor." That's not a good thing, but it should be noted that this technical term that the NCAA distinguishes from the more dreaded "lack of institutional control." Usually you need "lack of institutional control" to really get hammered.
-I still think the NCAA's numbers on the Whitney discounts are skewed by the fact that low extended stay rates are very common. Regardless, note that one thing the NCAA is investigating is whether or not the owner of the Whitney has a relationship with USC. My understanding is that that's not the case. That should help us. It should also help that we acted appropriately when we found out about this and that our players paid back the money they owed.
-I'm more concerned about the S.A.M. foundation. This has the appearance of direct booster involvement in passing off impermissible benefits to recruits, and many high-ranking coaches and officials knew something about their presence, even if, of course, they may not have known exactly what was going on. It's going to be more difficult to explain this one. I think whatever penalties we get may be mainly for this situation, not the Whitney. The good news here is that these guys were helping out players who are now at schools all across the nation. I feel that USC should be able to convince the NCAA that, regardless of the foundation's USC ties, this wasn't really a USC-specific thing and that any penalties USC receives should go to the other involved schools, as well. There's a potential fairness issue involved here that USC may be able to exploit to its advantage.
-Perhaps the worst news here, IMO, is that we're being hit with "repeat violator" status due to the 2005 mess. That could make what might have been minor penalties more serious in nature.
-Note that G.A. Mangus is one of the coaches being required to attend the hearing. Mangus was the recruiter for the players involved with the S.A.M. foundation, and there are probably questions about whether or not he knew how they were taking their visits. Don't be surprised if he ends up being a scapegoat in this and gets the ax after the end of the season.
I'll admit that I'm not an expert on these things, but I think at the end of the day, we'll get knocked by a few scholarships, nothing more. If they want to get serious about the Whitney situation, maybe they'll vacate the wins from 2009. I don't think we'll get slammed with bowl bans or any of that sort of thing. That said, this is the NCAA we're talking about, so who knows.