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Pete Carroll: I wouldn't have left USC if I knew sanctions were coming

Pete Carroll had a 83-19 record in nine seasons as coach at Southern California. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) Pete Carroll had a 83-19 record in nine seasons as coach at Southern California. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Former USC football head coach Pete Carroll, who abruptly left the school before the NCAA handed down sanctions against its football and basketball programs, said he never would have taken a job with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks if he knew the sanctions were going to be imposed.

"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from," Carroll told The Los Angeles Times in an interview. "… The NCAA came back at the university… 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years.

"Had we known that that was imminent … I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem."

USC was hit with a two-year bowl ban and lost 30 scholarships over a three-year period after the NCAA determined extra benefits were received by former running back Reggie Bush and his family and former basketball player O.J. Mayo. Carroll, who coached the Trojans from 2001-09, left for the NFL just five months before the sanctions were handed down.

As the NCAA sanctions handed down on USC come to a close, Carroll said the misperception surrounding his departure bothered him. And he did not back off a longstanding stance of harshly criticizing the NCAA over the sanctions.

"What I hope comes out of this is that this never happens to a university again," Carroll told the paper. "I think it was extraordinarily overdone, an overreaction."

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