USC parts ways with running backs coach Todd McNair

Todd McNair, USC’s running backs coach for the last six seasons and a key figure in the NCAA’s investigation of the school’s athletic department, became the first staff casualty in the aftermath of major sanctions levied against the program.

McNair’s contract was not renewed.

“Todd McNair’s contract expired on June 30, 2010,” Coach Lane Kiffin said during a campus interview Thursday morning. “We have no additional comment.”

In its infractions report, made public on June 10, the NCAA found that McNair “knew or should have known” that former Trojans running back Reggie Bush and two would-be sports marketers from the San Diego area “were engaged in violations that negatively affected” Bush’s amateur status.


The NCAA also determined that McNair “provided false and misleading information to the enforcement staff” and “violated NCAA legislation by signing a document certifying that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations.”

McNair, 44, has been absent from USC’s football offices since the NCAA announced penalties that include four years’ probation, a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. As part of the sanctions, the NCAA dealt McNair a “show-cause” order, which prevents him from contact with recruits for one year while working for USC or any other NCAA-member institution.

USC last week filed an appeal of some of the penalties. The school will not fight the bowl ban for the 2010 season but is asking that the ban be reduced to one year and that the loss of scholarships be reduced to five per year over three years.

On Thursday afternoon, USC said in a statement: “USC’s appeal of the NCAA’s ruling includes an appeal of the findings and sanctions related to Mr. McNair.”


Neither McNair nor his attorney, Scott Tompsett, could be reached for comment.

But Tompsett, in a statement posted on the website, said, “Coach McNair and USC are separating on friendly terms. It is my understanding that this decision does not in any way indicate that USC agrees with the finding against Coach McNair. I understand USC is going to continue to work closely with me and Todd to appeal [the] finding and penalty.”

In its 2009 response to the NCAA, which was used to prepare the case summary used by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions during USC’s appearance before the body in late February, USC repeatedly questioned the credibility of Lloyd Lake, one of the would-be marketers who is a convicted felon. The school also addressed errors and what it cited as other inconsistencies by investigators.

The school, for example, contested the authenticity of a photograph that shows McNair, actor Faizon Love and would-be agents Michael Michaels and Lake together at a nightclub. USC also questioned how the NCAA made the leap that the photo proved McNair knew of Bush’s relationship with Michaels and Lake.

The timing of USC’s decision to let McNair’s contract expire could put Kiffin in a bind as he searches for a successor.

Kennedy Pola, a former Trojans assistant who is now the running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans, is regarded as a leading candidate to succeed McNair. After the 2003 season, Pola left USC to become running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns, where he succeeded McNair.

McNair then joined USC’s staff.

“In fairness, I’ve already made a commitment to the Titans and Coach [ Jeff] Fisher, so it’s a tough sell for me,” Pola said Thursday night. “Obviously, if it was an opportunity, it would have to be more than a position job.”