Former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair was granted a motion for a new trial in his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA Wednesday. The suit has been ongoing since 2011, after the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions brought allegations in 2010 stating that McNair was involved in the Reggie Bush scandal. The NCAA found that Bush, a former USC running back, had received impermissible benefits while at USC, and he had to forfeit his Heisman trophy while the program vacated the 14 wins and national title from the 2004 season.
Last May, a jury sided with the NCAA, stating that the allegations brought against McNair were not defamatory. However, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller wrote in a ruling Wednesday morning that the jury’s decision was not supported by sufficient evidence, specifically citing an incorrect answer in a special jury verdict question meant to draw a certain answer.
“In the court’s judgment, no reasonable trier of fact could have made the determination that the answer to Special Verdict Question 3 should be ‘NO,’” Shaller said in the ruling.
Moreover, the presiding juror, Anthony Bruno, should not have been allowed to serve due to an implicit bias, Shaller said. Bruno is a member of the Latham & Watkins law firm, which was a part of the NCAA’s legal team on the McNair case. However, Bruno had no relation to or role in the case and worked at a different branch of the firm from those involved.
“Permitting Juror No. 2 to remain on the jury and participate in deliberations … resulted a miscarriage of justice and in [the] Plaintiff being deprived of a fair trial,” Shaller said.
A week ago, McNair agreed to become the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McNair has not coached at the collegiate or professional level since leaving USC in 2009.