USC athletic director Pat Haden says private emails between NCAA committee on infractions members that were made public as part of a lawsuit filed by former Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair confirm the school was treated unfairly in the NCAA’s handling of the Reggie Bush case.
The NCAA released almost 500 pages of documents on Tuesday after losing a court battle to keep them sealed. The documents relate to McNair’s defamation suit against the NCAA.
“I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls,” Haden said Wednesday in a statement. “It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules.”
The NCAA investigated the school to determine whether Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits and whether USC coaches knew about the players’ violations.
USC’s football program received a postseason ban, lost 30 scholarships and was forced to vacate 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy winning season after NCAA investigators concluded that Bush and his family received cash and gifts from sports marketers in 2004 and 2005.
“We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process,” Haden said. “USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve.”
The investigative report also criticized McNair, slapping him with a one-year “show-cause penalty” prohibiting him from recruiting and other sanctions.
McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011, saying the NCAA investigation was one-sided and seeks unspecified damages for libel, slander and breach of contract. McNair’s contract was not renewed by the school after the show-cause penalty was handed down.
The NCAA said McNair lied about his knowledge of extra benefits being provided to Bush and his family.
In the unsealed documents, the NCAA criticized the school for hiring Lane Kiffin as its head coach. Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was the coordinator of the USC offense while Bush was playing.
“Lack of institutional control … (and do we add the hiring of Lane Kiffin?), is a very easy call for me,” committee member Roscoe Howard wrote.
NCAA committee member Rodney Uphoff also compared the evidence against McNair to the case surrounding the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Uphoff said the case against McNair was stronger than that against Terry Nichols, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bombing.