Are we nearing an endgame in the seemingly endless tango between USC and the NCAA?
Maybe, but it isn't the one former USC assistant coach Todd McNair wanted. His appeal of sanctions was denied by the NCAA appeals committee, it was announced Friday morning.
Wrote the NCAA, "This appeal decision is separate from the university’s appeal, which has not yet been decided."
What does this mean for USC? Well, if McNair won his appeal, it certainly would have boded well for the Trojans getting back some scholarships as well as a restoration of bowl eligibility this season. But McNair's losing his appeal doesn't mean USC won't get some relief, though the reality is NCAA rules make it difficult to win an appeal.
McNair appeared before the appeals committee in November, while USC's case was heard on Jan. 22.
McNair's connection to would-be agent Lloyd Lake, who broke NCAA rules by providing money and gifts to Reggie Bush, was the centerpiece of the case against USC. The NCAA originally penalized McNair with a "show-cause" finding, preventing him from having contact with recruits for a year. McNair's contract subsequently was not renewed by new Trojans coach Lane Kiffin.
McNair's argument before the appeals committee, according to the report:
In his written appeal, the former assistant coach [McNair] asserted that the finding of violation against him should be set aside because the finding of violation is clearly contrary to the evidence presented to the Committee on Infractions and there was a procedural error and, but for the error, the Committee on Infractions would not have made the finding of violation.
Here's the gist of the findings from the appeals committee upholding sanctions against McNair:
The Infractions Appeals Committee stated in its report that, “As the committee considered the former assistant coach’s arguments, both written and oral, it became clear that the most pertinent issues devolved to matters of witness credibility.” This statement specifically related to the former assistant coach’s arguments that the Committee on Infractions allegedly relied on false statements in making its credibility determinations. The appellate committee considered all of the information presented by the Committee on Infractions and the former assistant coach. As a result, the appellate committee found that the evidence met the standard required by its prior reports, the applicable NCAA bylaw and other matters, which properly guide its decisions. The appellate committee also did not agree with the former assistant coach’s remaining arguments on appeal, which the public report further details.
McNair's attorney issued a statement, noting, "The NCAA should get the facts right when it ends a coach’s career."
... the Infractions Committee mischaracterized and manipulated key testimony. The Infractions Committee based Mr. McNair’s unethical conduct finding on demonstrably false statements. The Infractions Committee based its decision on inconsistent and contradictory findings. And today the Infractions Appeal Committee said that’s OK.
Mr. McNair had hoped the Infractions Appeal Committee would set aside his unethical conduct finding so he can try to resume his career. The decision today makes that very difficult.
The statement also adds that McNair might pursue further legal action:
Moreover, according to reports, the United States Congress is considering holding investigative hearings into the NCAA’s enforcement procedures, in part because of the NCAA’s mishandling of Mr. McNair’s case. It appears the NCAA stands alone in believing Mr. McNair is guilty of a major violation.
Mr. McNair is now considering legal action to remedy the injustice he has suffered.
So maybe this becomes just another chapter in this long, sad bit of theater.
Note: You can read the entire public report at the bottom of this link.