McNair Bombshell Reduces Long-Term Impact of the Case

As we’ve discussed over the last couple days, Todd McNair’s defamation case against the NCAA has picked up some steam, but its long-term impact is uncertain. Now on top of the judge’s comments about the NCAA’s “malicious” proseuction, McNair has presented evidence of how that malice may have affected the case:

[Judge Frederick] Shaller said that evidence provided by McNair’s attorneys show the NCAA had a “wreckless disregard for the truth.” Emails between Cooper and committee members Rodney Uphoff, a Missouri law professor, and Roscoe Howard, a former U.S. attorney, were circulated “covertly” in violation of NCAA rules according to the document.

Shallers’ decision uses only last names “Cooper” “Uphoff” and “Howard” but the document identifies by their NCAA duties and titles relevant to the case.

If McNair can prove the NCAA went above and beyond its procedures in order to nail him, he stands a pretty big chance of winning a recovery. And it would open the NCAA up to having to defend defamation suits regularly, as anyone who suffered a bad result would file the lawsuit simply to get to discovery and see whether the NCAA made a mistake or someone said something out of order.

But NCAA critics are not waiting for someone to prove the NCAA messed up in the USC case. Unless USC is prepared to reverse course and sue the NCAA, the long term impact of McNair’s case could be minimal. He will walk away with a nice chunk of change, the NCAA will not be affected financial to any degree, and life will go on.

The holy grail would be for someone to prove that the NCAA did everything by the book and still be able to win a defamation case. That would open an avenue for courts to review and pass judgment on NCAA procedures themselves, not just whether they were followed. A class action lawsuit would not be far behind.

As the case stands now, McNair is likely cruising toward a settlement in the not-to-distant future. The only question remaining is whether this is about principle and McNair refuses to walk away from the case without his name cleared, or whether he takes the money and the NCAA walks away without admitting anything.

2 Responses to “McNair Bombshell Reduces Long-Term Impact of the Case”

  1. Clearly the NCAA is going to buy McNair’s silence. I made you that bet two years ago when you were doing the bylaw blog for the NCAA. Given that I have no inside information, I must be a fortune teller, or I knew that the NCAA’s investigation of USC and the resulting penalties was a complete sham – kangaroo court. Making up standards on the fly “should have known” and “high profile athletes demand high profile compliance” or whatever. Those same very standards that the COI Chair Paul Dee did not think should apply to his Miami program (and most likely won’t).
    However, it looks like the judge will release enough of the information to allow the public to get a good look at the process the NCAA took in handing out unprecedented penalties. It’s one thing to hand out harsh penalties when the school is guilty, but if looks like the school and McNair got railroaded by an unethical, morally bankrupt organization, we can only hope that this brings change.
    Well, I’ve predicted the NCAA settlement with McNair two years ago. I’m willing to make another prediction. Even though you believe this case doesn’t have the legs, I think there are others that could begin to exert some significant influence over the NCAA. It’s shown itself as a patently incompetent and unjust organization used to serve political needs by rewarding the “connected” schools and hammering the unconnected. The fact that Pat Haden has been working to take on roles at the NCAA shows USC’s strategy going forward. Guilt or innocence isn’t what matters right now; rather, it’s whether the school is connected. Cronyism at the highest order. Bring this organization down.

  2. B. David Ridpath

    If the NCAA did not follow procedures and violated their own rules ala ex parte discussions and confidentiality it absolutely will not be minimal and likely will force government intervention at the very least. This will not be minimal. Remember the Cottrell case was a catalyst in the NCAA banning secret witnesses. This case does have legs.

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