Opening statements began Monday in the case of former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair. McNair lost his job at USC in 2010 after the NCAA accused him of knowing that a player was receiving benefits that were not allowed. McNair’s suit seeks unspecified damages for libel, slander, breach of contract and negligence. McNair claims that due to the way his case was handled and the show-cause penalty he received, he has not been able to find work in football since 2010.
During the opening statements, McNair’s lawyer Bruce Broillet said that the NCAA has built its case on a “recklessly constructed record”. Broillet also said that “they [NCAA] rewrote the evidence to fit their needs and their needs were severe sanctions against USC”. Kosta Stojilkovic, attorney for the NCAA, during his opening statement, showed photographs of other coaches who were able to find work after receiving what he called “harsher punishments” for NCAA rule violations. The NCAA claims that McNair knew about two sports agents and San Diego sports marketers who were giving Reggie Bush, former USC running back and Heisman trophy winner, impermissible benefits, while Bush played football at USC.
McNair sued the NCAA for defamation in June 2011. The show-cause penalty he received from the NCAA meant that any school that wanted to hire him had to get the NCAA’s permission.
Another important figure directly involved in the Reggie Bush case is Lake Lloyd, a convicted felon. Bush had been receiving the impermissible benefits from Lloyd, along with others, during his time at USC.
The trial began on April 23, 2018, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
McNair was drafted by the NFL and played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Oilers from 1989 to 1996. After the NFL he coached at various high schools before he became running back coach for the Cleveland Browns. USC hired McNair in 2004. His time at USC coincided with some of the most successful years in the university’s football history. USC won the National Championship in 2005 and Reggie Bush, who was recruited by McNair won the Heisman trophy. In 2006 USC made it to another National Championship but lost to the University of Texas at Austin.
In 2006 Reggie Bush was drafted by the New Orleans Saints as the second overall draft pick. However, on April 21, 2006, the information came from the NCAA that Bush had his unpermitted interactions with Lloyd Lake. McNair was interviewed in September 2006 and said he was unaware of any relationship between Bush and Lake; McNair did not bring an attorney to that interview. The NCAA later asked for his phone records, which he provided. Those records show a two-minute phone call between McNair and Lake, and a record of McNair talking to Bush on the same day.
In 2007, Lake agreed to an interview with the NCAA. In this interview, he claimed that he did have a phone call with McNair but that there was no record to prove it, according to McNair’s lawyer. However, according to the NCAA court papers, “Three telephone calls from McNair to Lake and a photograph corroborated his claim.”
In Monday's opening statements, McNair's attorney stated that "since 7th grade, McNair has been on the field playing football, but this defamation suit took him off."
The trial continues today and is scheduled for the next three weeks.