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Former USC coach Todd McNair expected to testify in defamation trial against NCAA

Almost seven years after Todd McNair sued the NCAA for defamation, the former USC running backs coach is among the witnesses expected to testify during the trial that starts next week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

McNair has kept a low profile since the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ruled in 2010 that the former coach engaged in “unethical conduct” in connection with the Reggie Bush extra benefits scandal.

McNair’s testimony — estimated in a court document to last seven hours — will provide his most extensive comments since filing the lawsuit.

Four members of the infractions committee that sanctioned McNair and USC — lawyer Brian Halloran, Temple law professor Eleanor Myers, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dennis Thomas and Missouri law professor Rodney Uphoff — are expected to testify during the three-week trial.

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In early 2010, Myers wrote an email to the infractions committee expressing concern that the NCAA’s enforcement staff “botched” a key interview with McNair and that he “did not have a good opportunity” to explain a phone call with sports marketer Lloyd Lake used as evidence in the case against McNair and USC.

The dozen names on the joint trial witness list also include Angie Cretors, the former NCAA director of agents, gambling and amateurism activities who played a key role in the investigation that led to USC being banned from bowl games for two seasons and stripped of 30 scholarships.

Depositions from 10 other witnesses may be used during the trial, according to the list. They include NCAA President Mark Emmert, deposed by McNair’s attorneys last week, former NCAA investigators Richard Johanningmeier and Ameen Najjar, and Shep Cooper, who served as the organization’s liaison to the infractions committee.

Cooper wrote an email to Uphoff on Feb. 22, 2010, that called McNair a “lying, morally bankrupt criminal, in my view, and a hypocrite of the highest order.”

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Jury selection in the case is expected to begin next Wednesday, with opening arguments a day or two later.

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno


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