Former USC Coach Loses Court Battle Against NCAA

Andy Berg Headshot

A jury has ruled against Todd McNair in a defamation lawsuit the former USC assistant basketball coach filed against the NCAA.

The case, which was opened in 2011, was finally decided Monday after more than a week of deliberations in a 9-3 vote against McNair. The nine women and three men found that the NCAA did not defame McNair in the case linked to the Reggie Bush extra benefits scandal.

"I'd like to thank all the Trojan faithful, all the fans for supporting me the last seven years. It's been incredible. It means a lot,” McNair said outside the courtroom.

McNair was suing the NCAA for $27 million in damages, claiming that the infractions committee’s decision to sanction him made it difficult for him to find another college job. McNair testified that he became depressed and began drinking heavily, taking out loans from friends and family, using food stamps and driving Uber to make ends meet.

McNair’s legal team alleged that the infractions committee changed key evidence in relation to McNair in order to connect the coach to the Bush scandal and increase sanctions against USC.

Anthony Bruno, who served as jury foreman and is also an L.A. lawyer, told the Los Angeles Times the evidence just wasn’t on McNair’s side. "If you're going to come into court and ask for $27 million, you need some corroborating evidence," Bruno said. "All we really had is his own testimony. ... The jury really wanted to get there for him. It was just hard because he has the burden of proof."

McNair was also alleging breach of contract and negligence, but those counts were withdrawn at the last minute. Bruno said he thought McNair might have been able to win on those counts had they not been pulled. "It would be nice if we could've had some other tools to get [McNair] something because we felt there was an improper process," Bruno said.

After the trial, Bruno and other jurors answered questions, many of them noting that they weren’t impressed with how McNair’s case was handled. "I don't think the NCAA should come away from this thinking they did things right," Bruno said. "I think the entire jury room was very, very disappointed and we wanted to do something. ... I think it's very clear they weren't following their own bylaws."

"I think it's safe to say that my client realizes there were issues here," NCAA attorney Kosta Stojilkovic told the jurors of the infractions process involving McNair.

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