A California appellate court ruled Monday that the NCAA infractions committee report on an impermissible benefits case against former USC running back Reggie Bush “was worded in disregard of the truth.”
The ruling stemmed from an NCAA appeal of former USC running backs coach Todd McNair's defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. The NCAA wanted McNair's lawsuit to be thrown out.
The court said that the infractions committee report was unfairly worded to make it seem like McNair was aware of NCAA violations committed by Bush. As a result, McNair’s defamation lawsuit against the NCAA will move forward.
McNair filed the lawsuit against the NCAA in June 2011, a year after his contract was not renewed at USC following heavy sanctions from the NCAA regarding Bush’s interactions with a sports marketing agency.
McNair played a major role in that case, as the NCAA determined he “knew or should have known” about the impermissible benefits received by Bush. That allowed the NCAA to punish the school itself with a two-season bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three seasons.
The Second District Court of Appeal, however, ruled that McNair’s suit, which claims he did not know about Bush’s relationship with the marketing agency, should move forward as it “has demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the merits.”
“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 30-page ruling reads.
McNair received a one-year show-cause penalty as a result of the sanctions and has not coached at the collegiate level since leaving USC.
The NCAA, which hoped the appellate court would close McNair’s case, has 40 days to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court.
- Alex Nieves