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USC's seniors also were allowed to transfer to another school without sitting out a year, a sanction that Kiffin criticized as "free agency." A few players left the Trojans after the sanctions were handed down, but most were backups unhappy with playing time.
The appeal's rejection apparently means USC's seniors still could transfer without sitting out a year.
Critics of the original NCAA ruling against USC thought the NCAA's recent decisions involving football programs at Auburn and Ohio State would help the Trojans' appeal.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was allowed to keep playing despite an NCAA ruling that his father had asked Mississippi State for cash when his son was being recruited out of junior college. Five Ohio State players then were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after the NCAA ruled they had sold their championship rings, jerseys and awards and received improper benefits from a tattoo parlor.
USC also made wholesale changes in its athletic department, including a dramatically beefed-up compliance unit.
USC will be limited to signing no more than 15 players to football scholarships over the next three years, 10 fewer than the standard limit.
Haden's pessimism was grounded in a ruling last month when the NCAA upheld its punishment of former USC assistant Todd McNair for his role in the Bush case. McNair was Carroll's assistant for six seasons, and the NCAA claimed McNair knew about some of the gifts lavished on Bush's family by two aspiring sports marketers hoping to land Bush as a client.
McNair and USC's attorneys hotly disputed the charge, but McNair's contract wasn't retained on Kiffin's staff.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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