Before Miami’s mess, there was SMU’s death penalty

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“We didn’t ever have a situation where we thought it would be appropriate, but we had some cases where it technically was in play,” she said. “I wouldn’t rule it out (being used sometime), but hopefully it would be rare and it should be rare.”

The NCAA hit USC with some of the toughest sanctions in recent memory last year, banning the Trojans from postseason play for two seasons and taking away 30 scholarships over a three-year period.

Even coach Lane Kiffin acknowledges it could take USC football seven years to bounce back from the penalties.

SMU has never fully recovered from the death penalty.

The Mustangs were not allowed to play football in 1987 and school officials chose to cancel the ‘88 season, too, taking a year off to rebuild. But the damage was too great.

SMU’s final AP rankings from 1981-84 were No. 5, No. 2, No. 12 and No. 8. After the death penalty, the Mustangs did not play in a bowl game until 2009.

James said SMU’s punishment was too harsh.

“I can’t say that we didn’t get what was coming our way,” he said. “But it absolutely put a cloud over our institution for 25 years. It lumped everyone into the same group of cheaters.”

Swank agrees with Emmert that the death penalty must be used sparingly.

“I don’t think it is appropriate to totally destroy an athletic program of an institution because of violations unless … you go back to something similar to what you had in the SMU case,” he said.

“I don’t think the Miami case is one that really deserves that.”

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AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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