Todd McNair Never Had A Chance Against The NCAA

    Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011 after the NCAA infractions committee found him guilty of unethical conduct in connection with former USC and NFL star Reggie Bushs case, ruling that McNair had known Bush was involved in compliance violations and that he misled enforcement staff during their investigation.

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    As a result, the group sanctioned him with a one-year “show cause” penalty making it difficult for him to find another college job and USC declined to renew the coach’s contract.

    McNair’s attorney Bruce Broillet has maintained that the NCAA changed evidence by altering testimony of a key witness in a way that implicated Bush and increased sanctions on USC. The former coach has fallen on hard times over the past seven years while attempting to clear his name. He was suing the NCAA for $27 million dollars in damages for lost wages, breach of contract, negligence, and defamation of character.  

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    The jury is explaining to the attorneys how they voted. The common theme seems to be that burden of proof for Todd McNair was too high.

    This week, nine women and three men on the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found the NCAA didn’t defame McNair in the case linked to the Reggie Bush extra-benefits scandal. Reports say the jury was sympathetic to McNairs plight, but his testimony fell short of convincing them that the university was culpable. 

    “If you’re going to come into court and ask for $27 million, you need some corroborating evidence,” Anthony Bruno, a lawyer in L.A. who served as the jury foreman, told The Times in a telephone interview. “All we really had is his own testimony. … The jury really wanted to get there for him. It was just hard because he has the burden of proof.”

    It seems that McNair was a victim of the process” and an example of how hard it is for one man to go up against a corporate conglomerate with an endless bank account, who changes its rules and regulations on a person-by-person basis. 

    “It would be nice if we could’ve had some other tools to get [McNair] something because we felt there was an improper process,” Bruno said.

    According to latimes.com, “A series of incendiary emails between nonvoting members of the committee were key exhibits, including one from NCAA infractions committee liaison Shep Cooper in February 2010 that described McNair as a “lying, morally bankrupt criminal.” But Bruno said the jury “barely discussed” the emails because they weren’t relevant to the bottom line.”

    “I don’t think the NCAA should come away from this thinking they did things right,” Bruno told the group as several jurors nodded. “I think the entire jury room was very, very disappointed and we wanted to do something. … I think it’s very clear they weren’t following their own bylaws.”

    “We hope that the decision will allow the NCAA, USC and Mr. McNair to move on,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement.

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    The NCAA may be satisfied with the verdict, but its unclear where McNair goes from here. Hes an African-American coach with a major blemish on his resume and its hard enough for a person of color with an impeccable record of coaching conduct to secure and maintain a coaching job at a major university. Everyone involved admits that the NCAA didnt exactly follow its own rules, but it seems McNair will remain a scapegoat of sorts, a victim of circumstance. 

    The cost for McNair has been major. During his two days of testimony McNair shared stories of depression, heavy drinking and having to turn to friends and family for loans because he was stained by the Bush situation and considered unhirable by reputable universities. McNair hit a low when he had to use food stamps to survive and take up a job as an Uber driver.  

    McNair hasn’t coached at the college or professional level since being sanctioned, while Bush vacated his Heisman Trophy but went on to have a successful NFL career. In fact, Bush gave McNair over $60,000 in order to help his former mentor out after he was let go by the school after six years with the program. 

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    Head coach Pete Carroll escaped culpability by bolting for the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and has won a Super Bowl. USC vacated a few wins from its record books, including the 2004 seasons Orange Bowl and 12 wins the next season, but has continued to rake in millions off the backs of student- athletes and keep the reputation of its football program intact at all costs. 

    Looks like McNair got screwed on this one. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.