SC Counselor: Cheating, Breaking Rules ‘Different’

A member of the USC Board of Counselors, which the official USC sports website describes as, “the main advisory board for the Athletic Department,” made some interesting recent comments to the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER about the NCAA sanctions brought against the school.

Mark Larson USC Board of Counselors Member

USC Counselor Mark Larson said of sanctions:

“There’s a difference between cheating and breaking the rules. This was breaking the rules. It’s ludicrous to say USC was cheating.

“It’s comical that everyone cares about what happens at USC. If this were any other Pac-10 school, no one would care this much.

“The people who are boosters and really involved in the program are of the same mindset I am. Face it, most people in the Pac-10 would take the nine years we had in exchange for what happened (Thursday).”

Larson’s comments echo what we heard from USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett last week.

Speaking at an alumni function immediately after the NCAA penalties against USC were made public, Garrett said:

As I read the decision by the NCAA … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.

NCAA infractions report principals Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush have also expressed similar defiance.

The more we hear from prominent USC officials, the more I’m convinced that the NCAA absolutely nailed the proper punishment of the Trojans. Clearly, there was a disregard for NCAA rules within the sports programs and administration in the past. And in the case of Garrett and Larson, it appears that attitude hasn’t changed.

What’s lost on USC officials and former members of the program is that because Bush and O.J. Mayo were such high profile athletes, the school is held to a higher standard in policing their activities.

It’s exactly the same thing as tax returns of political candidates being scrutinized with a microscopic.

With the trappings fame and celebrity comes added responsibility.

By denying that, USC reps are being intellectually dishonest.

In the case of Garrett, Bush and Carroll, who are damage controlling their legacies, I at least understand the motivation for their whack reaction.

But in the case of Larson, a highly successful real estate executive who is charged with raising millions to fund USC sports scholarships ever year, that reaction has crossed over into outright delusion.