CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Ex-USC assistant McNair loses appeal in Bush case

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Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair lost his appeal to the NCAA in the Reggie Bush case, the association announced on Friday.

McNair had been charged with unethical conduct by the NCAA by providing false and misleading statements about his knowledge of a short telephone call between himself and Lloyd Lake five years ago. In essence, the NCAA determined that by speaking to Lake, a convicted felon who was reportedly in the process of setting up a marketing firm, McNair knew about extra benefits given to Bush. The decision is not good for USC, which is awaiting word on its separate appeal of the penalties handed down in June.

USC still awaits word on its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. (Getty Images)  
USC still awaits word on its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. (Getty Images)  
McNair aggressively fought the unethical conduct finding. He was given a one-year show cause penalty by the NCAA making it virtually impossible that he could work during the 2010 season. With the unethical conduct charge standing McNair will have trouble finding work as a coach in the college ranks.

There is a connection to the Jim Tressel case. Both McNair and Tressel are alleged to have violated bylaw 10.1 which deals with unethical conduct. The facts of what occurred are much clearer in the Tressel case. Ohio State goes before the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12.

The NCAA concluded that "the most pertinent issues [with McNair] devolved to matters of witness credibility." McNair is considering legal action against the NCAA.

McNair, a former NFL back, was a long-time running backs coach under Pete Carroll. His lawyer, Scott Tompsett, is a 20-year veteran of representing clients in NCAA cases. He argued aggressively that the finding against McNair was based on evidence that was "factually incorrect" and there were "false statements" made.

"They took the testimony of Lloyd Lake, mischaracterized it and they changed it, then they based their finding on that mischaracterized testimony," said Tompsett, who has been involved in more than 50 major violation cases. "That's a fact. That's objectively true."

The appeal also said there were "ex parte" communications between the enforcement staff and infractions committee. Ex parte is a Latin term that in legal circles means there are communications without all parties being involved.

More on USC case

McNair contends that the infractions committee sharing the results of its reports with the enforcement staff because of "factual errors" constituted improper ex parte communication. The appeals committee wrote in its report that the communications were made to correct typographical errors. The appeal also said that McNair's right to fair process was violated because the NCAA excluded USC from interviews with Lake, a former friend of Bush's from San Diego.

Three years ago Lake said he gave almost $300,000 in cash and other extra benefits to Bush and his family. He then sued Bush to recoup the money. Lake and a partner reportedly intended to set up a representation firm that would have Bush as a client before everything went sour. It wasn't the first time the NCAA relied on testimony from a person with a questionable past. Lake had been arrested seven times, served time in jail and had been characterized as a career criminal in U.S. District Court.

The NCAA based its charge against McNair on a 2 ½minute phone call with Lake. In January 2006, Lake allegedly attempted to get McNair to convince Bush to remain with the plan to set up the firm or pay back the money. Based on that, the NCAA says that McNair knew Bush was receiving extra benefits and did not alert the NCAA. It was that conclusion that led the NCAA to slap USC with some of the most severe penalties in years.

The Trojans are appealing a two-year bowl ban (it has served one) and the loss of 30 scholarships over three seasons.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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