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Judge reassigned in Todd McNair’s lawsuit against NCAA

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair, right, shown in 2009, sued the NCAA in 2011.
(Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)
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The NCAA won a legal skirmish in former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair’s lawsuit against the organization, with the case being reassigned from the Los Angeles Superior Court judge overseeing it.

The NCAA moved May 16 for Judge Frederick Shaller to be disqualified, saying the “public perceives potential judicial bias” because Shaller graduated from USC.

Those ties, however, didn’t play into the court’s decision earlier this month. Instead, the court granted the NCAA’s request because the 2nd District Court of Appeal last year reversed a portion of an earlier ruling by Shaller in the case. That gave the NCAA the “right to challenge the continued participation of the trial judge … without showing any good cause,” the ruling said.

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Shaller denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss McNair’s lawsuit in 2012. The defamation case stemmed from penalties imposed on the former coach as part of wide-ranging sanctions after an extra-benefits probe centered on former USC running back Reggie Bush.

At the time, Shaller wrote in his ruling that emails between members of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions “tend to show ill will or hatred” and that the conduct of people involved in the investigation was “over the top” and “malicious.” One of the emails described McNair as a “lying, morally bankrupt criminal.”

Last year, the appellate court upheld the bulk of Shaller’s ruling and allowed the long-running case to proceed. But the three-justice panel threw out McNair’s allegation that the NCAA sanctions caused USC to not renew his contract. That reversal allowed the NCAA to successfully challenge Shaller’s continued participation in the case.

In March, Shaller rejected a previous attempt by the NCAA to disqualify him.

A case management conference is scheduled for July.

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nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno

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