Jury rules against McNair in defamation court case

A jury ruled in favor of the NCAA in former USC football coach Todd McNair’s defamation trial in Los Angeles on Monday.

Todd McNair was fired as USC’s running backs coach in 2010, when the NCAA deemed he knew of improper benefits. Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information.

McNair was the running backs coach when the Reggie Bush scandal broke  in 2010, and his contract was terminated after six years on the USC coaching staff. It was determined he knew about some of the gifts that Bush and his family received. After  a four-year investigation on Bush and the USC’s football program, the NCAA banned USC from bowl games for two years and imparted scholarship restrictions.

In the current defamation trial, McNair fought for his name and accused the NCAA of altering evidence to connect him with the scandal and justify increasing the sanctions placed on USC.

McNair and his lawyer claimed that the NCAA released information that it knew was false, and they accused NCAA President Mark Emmert of slander for vocally supporting the false reports. He sued the NCAA in June 2011, claiming that false information hurt him in his job search after the Bush scandal. McNair and his lawyer asked for $27 million in damages.

About halfway through the trial, one of the jurors was dismissed due to an obstructing language barrier, and deliberations restarted with a replacement juror.

After six days of deliberation, the jury ruled 9-3 that the statements made about McNair were not false.

“I don’t think the NCAA should come away from this thinking they did things right,” the head juror said to the Los Angeles Times. “I think the entire jury room was very, very disappointed and we wanted to do something.”

The head juror said that McNair could have won a case for negligence or breach of contract, both claims that his lawyers dropped before closing arguments. Ultimately, McNair’s proof for defamation fell short.

McNair’s lawyer Bruce Broillet made a statement following the verdict and insinuated that their fight was not over.

“Very, very disappointed … in the result,” he said. “Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”