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NCAA appeals committee upholds sanctions against former USC running backs coach Todd McNair

Panel rules that findings and penalties against Todd McNair in the Reggie Bush investigation are appropriate. McNair's attorney had argued in November that an NCAA committee had changed and mischaracterized the testimony of a convicted felon at center of Bush case.

April 29, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • The NCAA concluded in its infractions report last summer that former USC running backs coach Todd McNair "knew or should have known" about violations that would have affected Reggie Bush's amateur status.
The NCAA concluded in its infractions report last summer that former USC… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)

Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair, a central figure in the NCAA investigation that resulted in major sanctions for the school's athletic department and McNair, lost his appeal to overturn findings and penalties, the NCAA announced Friday.

USC, which appeared before the Infractions Appeals Committee in January, is still awaiting a decision on its appeal. Friday's report noted that the NCAA's decision regarding McNair was separate from the university's appeal, "which has not yet been decided."

USC declined to comment about the McNair decision.

Tom Yeager, a former chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, cautioned against reading too much into the outcome and how it might relate to the pending decision regarding USC.

"I don't think you can draw any conclusions, good, bad or indifferent," he said. "I'm sure there are going to be some people reading the tea leaves but they are unrelated."

After a four-year investigation into USC and former running back Reggie Bush, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions ruled last summer that the school lacked institutional control after concluding that Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo had received improper benefits when they were competing for the Trojans.

Sanctions against USC included four years' probation, a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. USC has asked that the bowl ban be reduced to one year, already served, and that the scholarship loss be reduced to 15 over three years.

The NCAA also determined that McNair had engaged in unethical conduct and sanctioned him with a "show-cause" order, preventing him from contact with recruits for one year while working for USC or any other NCAA-member institution.

McNair, an assistant for six seasons under former USC coach Pete Carroll, was not retained by new Coach Lane Kiffin last July after his contract expired.

McNair, 45, had appeared before the appeals committee in November, when his attorney argued that the Committee on Infractions had changed and mischaracterized the testimony of Lloyd Lake, a felon who was at the center of the NCAA's case against USC and Bush.

In upholding the decision, the appeals committee said Friday that "the evidence met the standard required by its prior reports, the applicable NCAA bylaw and other matters which properly guide its decisions."

McNair could not be reached for comment.

"Mr. McNair is disappointed in the decision, but he's not surprised," his attorney, Scott Tompsett, said in a statement. "After all, the NCAA publicly endorsed the Infractions Committee's decision last June before we had even filed the notice of appeal. And NCAA President Mark Emmert said last December — while the Infractions Appeals Committee was still deliberating the appeal — that he believed the Infractions Committee got the USC case right. So, [Friday's] decision simply confirms what the NCAA leadership had already decreed publicly."

Tompsett added that "the NCAA owes it to involved parties, the NCAA membership and the public to get the facts right. The NCAA should get the facts right when it ends a coach's career." He also said the infractions committee "mischaracterized and manipulated key testimony" and that McNair was "considering legal action to remedy the injustice he has suffered."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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