USC's appeal to NCAA denied

USC has been notified by the NCAA infractions appeals committee that all penalties and findings against the athletic department have been upheld.

USC had pointed in its appeal to precedent as a reason that the NCAA's penalties were excessive, but the appeals committee stated that those cases were not directly applicable.

"We are extremely disappointed in this result," USC president Max Nikias said in a statement Thursday. "We are very concerned that the historical value of case precedent and the right to fair process in the NCAA adjudicative process, both in terms of the ability of an institution to defend itself or prove an abuse of discretion on appeal, have been substantially eroded."

USC will lose 30 scholarships over the next three years and will not be eligible to play in this year's Pac-12 title game or a bowl game.

"I respect the NCAA's decision to uphold the sanctions against USC. That being said, I am disappointed for our players, our fans and our staff that another bowl game and now a possible Pac-12 championship game has been taken away from them," coach Lane Kiffin said in the statement.

Kiffin said he is committed to following the NCAA's guidelines to make sure USC is "winning the right way."

"We have been operating with these sanctions for a year now and have felt their effects on multiple fronts. We will continue to execute the plan we have in place to make the most of the hand with which we have been dealt. I am proud of how our players have performed on the field and represented us off the field under very difficult and trying circumstances," Kiffin said.

Also remaining in place is the provision allowing USC upperclassmen to transfer to an FBS school without the typical one-year penalty, which Kiffin called "free agency" last year. Any USC senior can transfer this offseason and play his final season at a school of his choosing.

The appeal's rejection apparently means USC's seniors still could transfer without sitting out a year.

The NCAA imposed the penalties last June after ruling that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo received
improper benefits. The university also was cited for a lack of institutional control. Bush gave back his Heisman.

Two weeks after the ruling, school officials said they would appeal some of the penalties, calling them excessive. The Trojans were given four years' probation, had to vacate 14 wins and were required to banish Bush from the program.

The ruling presumably closes the book on USC's case with the NCAA, as USC athletic director Pat Haden said in January that the university would take no further action following the announcement of the appeal decision.

USC said it would not specifically comment on the NCAA's denial of the appeal until Thursday.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Pedro Moura and The Associated Press was used in this report.