Records Released in Todd McNair Defamation Suit Prove NCAA Bias, Says USC

    The University of Southern California said in a March 25 statement that the nearly 500 pages of documents recently unsealed in Todd McNair’s defamation lawsuit against the NCAA evinced a “bias against [former Trojans running backs coach] McNair and USC by and on behalf of the NCAA and its Committee on Infractions.” The documents included emails and memos by members of the NCAA infractions committee that compared the evidence in the scandal to the Oklahoma City bombing, mocked USC’s response to the matter and derided the hiring of Lane Kiffen as the Trojans’ football coach.

    Among the documents is a March 2010 email from Eleanor Myers, one of the members of the infractions committee, to the group, stating that the committee enforcement staff “botched” a key interview with McNair, and that McNair “did not have a good opportunity” to respond to certain evidence the NCAA used in its case. McNair’s attorneys argued in documents that “the NCAA fabricated evidence to suit its needs.”

    As McNair’s defamation lawsuit moves ahead, we are left to ponder whether more documents will be unsealed and released, including documents that my have led Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller in 2012 to describe the NCAA’s investigation as “malicious” and “over the top,” and revealing an “ill will or hatred” toward McNair.

    Furthermore, it remains to be seen if USC or former USC players may be able to seek redress from the NCAA, including the reinstatement of victories that were vacated as a result of the sanctions levied by the NCAA. Perhaps the university could also seek additional scholarships as special compensation or dispensation for the loss of scholarships incurred due to the sanction. “I would ask the NCAA to give back some of the [scholarships] it took away,” said Michael Buckner, an attorney with the Florida-based Buckner Law Firm who has been involved in numerous NCAA enforcement cases.

    USC and its athletic director, Pat Haden, are hoping this lawsuit prompts change in how the NCAA handles its investigations, and perhaps will even spark an overhaul of the NCAA’s enforcement system. Currently, the case is at the appellate court level, with the NCAA moving to strike McNair’s complaint and dismiss the case. The court recently ordered the parties to submit briefing based on the “newly designated appellate record.” The NCAA’s opening brief is due May 4, and McNair’s opening brief will be due within 30 days of the NCAA’s filing of its opening brief.

    Source: Los Angeles Times, Sports Section (Section D), March 26, 2015

    Posted by: Adam C. Nicolai, esq., March 30, 2015