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Opener vs. USC is a go, NCAA rules

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A week after throwing the 2010 University of Hawaii-USC football opener into question, the NCAA yesterday backpedaled and announced an accommodation that will allow the Sept. 2 game to go on at Aloha Stadium.

In sanctioning USC, the NCAA had initially prohibited the Trojans from playing any exempted contests such as the UH game, in 2010 and ’11.

But yesterday it announced "the Committee on Infractions has delayed the penalty that precludes the University of Southern California from playing a 13th game" with a "one-year deferral."

Instead, USC will be prohibited from playing any exempted games in 2011 and ’12.

"In making this decision, the committee noted a number of factors, including that the game has been scheduled for at least five years, will be televised, and many fans have already purchased travel packages to the game," Stacey Osburn, NCAA associate director for public and media relations, said in an e-mail to the Star-Advertiser.

"There was definitely some anxiety over how cancellation would have impacted our season, our ticket sales, our budget and even the state’s economy," said Jim Donovan, UH athletic director. "I’m pleased the NCAA took a look at the whole situation and decided to change their minds."

The game was scheduled in 2001 and UH is expecting its fourth consecutive sellout of a USC appearance at Aloha Stadium. UH has sent 7,200 tickets to USC for purchase by Trojans fans.

The game was moved to a Thursday so it could be shown on ESPN.

USC senior vice president Todd Dickey said in a release, "we want to thank the committee for granting this relief; it recognizes the serious financial impacts game cancellation would have had to the university and state of Hawaii as well as the fans and supporters of USC who have already made travel arrangements."

NCAA rules permit schools to play a maximum of 12 regular-season games, except when playing in Alaska or Hawaii when an exempted contest is permitted. The policy was established in 1955 to encourage teams to play in the 49th and 50th states by providing an extra game to help defray the costs.

"That’s why, to me, it’s unprecedented to take away the game," Donovan said.

The schools do not meet in ’11 and their ’12 game is at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which, for USC, is not an exempted game. USC is scheduled to return to Aloha Stadium in 2013, after the NCAA ban expires.


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