Five years after the NCAA handed down harsh punishments on USC due to running back Reggie Bush receiving impermissible benefits, a court has ruled that the NCAA reached a "predetermined conclusion" and "disregarded the truth" in punishing former USC coach Todd McNair. McNair is suing the NCAA for ruining his reputation unfairly and using him as a scapegoat to punish the program.
Bush's violations are not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether McNair knew about the allegations. The NCAA justified punishing USC with a bowl ban and scholarship losses because its administration knew. However, the court disagreed with the NCAA:
'This evidence clearly indicates that the ensuing (NCAA infractions committee) report was worded in disregard of the truth to enable the (NCAA committee) to arrive at a predetermined conclusion that USC employee McNair was aware of the NCAA violations,' said the ruling from California's Second District Court of Appeal. 'To summarize, McNair established a probability that he could show actual malice by clear and convincing evidence based on the (committee's) doubts about McNair's knowledge, along with its reckless disregard for the truth about his knowledge, and by allowing itself to be influenced by nonmembers to reach a needed conclusion.'
The implication here is that the NCAA chose to ignore the truth regarding McNair's knowledge of the situation just so it could punish USC, deeming McNair collateral damage.
This is another blow to the credibility of the NCAA, and particularly its infractions committee, which has been wildly inconsistent in handing down punishments. The USC case, in particular, was detrimental to the university and is still effecting it today, with diminished scholarship numbers hindering the Trojans on the field. The McNair case will proceed after the NCAA failed to have the suit thrown out.