Carroll denies knowing of violations
The first question coach Pete Carroll answered after Tuesday's practice at Seahawks headquarters concerned the return of linebacker Leroy...
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — The first question coach Pete Carroll answered after Tuesday's practice at Seahawks headquarters concerned the return of linebacker Leroy Hill.
The 27-year-old Hill was back on the practice field for the first time since his arrest in April, working with the second-unit defense. He still faces a misdemeanor assault charge in Issaquah and remains on probation in Georgia for a misdemeanor drug-possession charge there.
But it wasn't long before Carroll was asked about NCAA sanctions levied last week against USC, where he coached before leaving to become Seahawks coach in January.
Carroll's news conference sounded more like a procedural drama. Call it, "Law & Order: Seahawks Special," though at least no Top Pot Doughnuts went missing this week.
Carroll, saying that a head coach is responsible for what happens under his watch, restated that he did not know about any violations at USC until after the fact.
"I don't know how we would have known that stuff anyway," Carroll said. "We wish that we would have laid claim to it, and understood, so we could have headed it off, because it's unfortunate right now for all the young people."
Carroll answered questions for more than 15 minutes, reiterating his surprise at the severity of the NCAA sanctions, stating he did not leave USC for Seattle because of the specter of those sanctions and professing ignorance of any violations as they happened.
Carroll said he felt the penalties against USC — a two-year bowl ban and reduction of 30 scholarships — were not fair, and said he did not know of the impermissible benefits the NCAA determined Reggie Bush received as a Trojan.
"It looks like, 'Why would you not know?' " Carroll said. "Well, Reggie Bush became Reggie Bush in a matter of months, a few weeks if you want to look at it, where he really rose to the kind of acclaim and became this extraordinary player in the program."
Carroll has said he did not know of any transgressions involving Bush at the time. Carroll reiterated he will support USC's appeal of the sanctions and called upon the NCAA to help educate prospective college athletes about eligibility concerns.
But all the talk about USC sanctions came after the coach addressed Hill's future with the Seahawks. And given that the linebacker has been missing from team workouts the past two months, the fact that he has a future in Seattle is news.
Hill met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell more than a week ago. While the league has not disciplined him, Carroll said the commissioner has provided guidance.
"We wanted to know where the league stood on this, and what kind of stance they were going to take," Carroll said. "They haven't come to any final conclusion yet, either, but they did give us enough information that we know how to progress from here."
Hill is subject to discipline from the league after he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor drug-possession charge from earlier this year. In April, he was arrested and charged with domestic violence after an altercation at his home in Issaquah. Hill still faces that charge in Issaquah Municipal Court, his next hearing scheduled July 14.
His return to the practice field came with the expectation that he will be on the team this season.
"I'm super happy," Hill said. "I missed my teammates. I missed playing football the whole time."
While Hill worked with the second unit and linebacker Lofa Tatupu sat out the practice, Aaron Curry worked with the first unit at strongside linebacker, Will Herring was in the middle and David Hawthorne was at weakside linebacker, where Hill has played the last five seasons in Seattle.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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