A member of the NCAA infractions committee said in a March 2010 email to the group that the organization’s enforcement staff “botched” a key interview with former USC running backs coach Todd McNair.
Eleanor Myers, a Temple University law professor, wrote that McNair “did not have a good opportunity” to explain a phone call with sports marketer Lloyd Lake that the NCAA used as evidence in the case that led to sanctions against McNair and USC.
Myers’ email was among almost 500 pages of previously sealed documents that the NCAA filed in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Tuesday in connection with McNair’s defamation lawsuit against the organization.
An NCAA investigator who questioned McNair misstated the year of the brief early-morning phone call -- 2005 instead of 2006. And while the NCAA said that McNair initiated the call, phone records showed that Lake made the call.
“The problem I am having … is that I did not think McNair had an adequate opportunity during his interview to discuss what happened in the call,” Myers wrote in a follow-up email to the infractions committee.
Myers called the interview a “generally a very confusing piece of questioning” and said she wasn’t “comfortable charging him with lying.”
In an email sent the same day, another infractions committee member, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, questioned the extent of Lake’s association with McNair.
“And, Lake’s transcript was really choppy on his relationship with McNair, and as I recall he had difficulty being able to come up with his name until staff prompted him,” Banowsky wrote.
“He may have not told the truth about knowing Lake, but the real question would seem whether he knew of Lake’s plan to have the agency and that he was giving benefits to Reggie [Bush].
“It is challenging for me to make the finding when there is no allegation that [McNair] was personally involved in any rules violations or even had specific knowledge of any.”
“On the reporting issue … [McNair] must report ‘any knowledge of any involvement in any violation,’ ” she wrote in response to Banowsky. “As Britton says, on this record it is hard to find that he was ‘involved’ in anything, only perhaps his knowledge.”