Court's NCAA denial good for McNair, USC

After getting denied in its motion to seal the case file by the California Court of Appeals Friday, the NCAA has a decision to make. So does USC, we think.

Not a lawyer here. Don't pretend to be one. But like so many lawyers who have looked at this case, we knew pretty much the California Court of Appeals wasn't going to buy the NCAA's arguments, such as they were, to keep their conduct confidential, arguments that were bogus beyond belief.

And as much as we can all read the Court's decision Friday telling the NCAA its motion to seal the file was basically not happening, we'll let you do that.

But we'll just say this: Do not forget for a second that this is an appeal the NCAA brought and filed this material in an attempt to win that appeal to get the Todd McNair case thrown out. And then they tell the Courts that they don't want anyone to see this stuff because . . . well, just because it won't allow them to frame someone the way they framed Todd McNair. And not being able to do that would be so hurtful to the lawful conduct of college athletics.

Yeah, right. Trust us, they say. We did it right. And when we come to court, well, if it ends up in a public process that could turn out to be really embarrassing for us if the world knew exactly how we did this, could we please take it back.

And here's the cool part. They can take it back, we understand. But then it goes back to the LA Superior Court where it's already been decided that the NCAA was "hateful" and "malicious" and that the material submitted in the case should become public.

So we're guessing they don't go that route right now. They can take 40-50 days to decide on what material to take back -- although we're assuming they don't get to take back any of the material McNair's attorneys filed here. And they can take a flyer at the California Supreme Court and good luck with that, we hear.

Whatever, they'll just keep stalling. Think about this. In June, it will be five years since the NCAA tried to destroy Todd McNair's career and his life, by extension, and didn't give it a second thought. And still he waits. Nearly five long years.

And do you think the NCAA cares one whit? This is about protecting themselves from some of the most damning, damaging information about exactly how lawlessly -- or in the NCAA's case -- bylawlessly -- go about their business.

Now we wait while the attorneys and the judges work through the details of what comes next. There's a lot here that's not all that clear-cut even to the lawyers. And with the gag order in place, it's not easy making sense of some of this.

But here's what jumps out at us. The 400 pages filed confidentially until the court decided include, according to the opinion: (1) the COI [Committee on Infractions] Report, (2) the NCAA case summary provided to the COI, (3) memoranda drafted by members of the COI concerning the allegations, (4) excerpts of witness interviews, (5) telephone records, (6) the notice of allegations, (7) excerpts of the deposition testimony of NCAA officials describing the NCAA’s investigative and adjudicative process, (8) e-mails between COI members while adjudicating the allegations, (9) excerpts of the COI hearing transcripts, (10) plaintiff’s response to the notice of allegations, and (11) McNair's appeal to the NCAA’s Appeals Committee.

Think of what interesting reading that material would make. And it could just be a drop in the bucket. Only three NCAA officials have been deposed thus far. What about the rest of the crew? And then the COI members, one after another -- Potuto, Conboy and Co. Think of all the discovery there.

And that's what could be coming next if the NCAA bails on the appeal and goes back to square one. This may be just getting interesting. Think about what we learned in the snippets of the Penn State case when the emails and depositions of Mark Emmert and the other NCAA insiders came out. That case was over at that moment.

Not sure we want this USC case to be over. Sure, the NCAA should have backed down by now. But that would have taken a stand from USC as smart, principled and aggressive as that of McNair and his attorneys.

Which gets us to where we are now. And where USC is. The extension gives the powers-that-be at USC time to get off the pot (OK, time is hardly what USC has needed thus far) and take a stand at long last.

In the next few weeks, we'd like to see USC demand -- and do so in the most public way possible -- that the NCAA give them access to all of the above material in Items 1-11 that they have not seen. And then, USC will say, we will decide how to proceed from there.

USC can say to the NCAA: We've served our punishment, we've been the most compliant college sports program imaginable, we trusted you and now we need to know: Were we treated fairly? According to the NCAA's bylaws? Like everyone else who has come before the COI the last five years? We need to see that.

USC has clearly been damaged. Like Todd McNair. But unlike Todd, USC chose not to fight after the appeal was summarily dismissed. Now it's time to stand up for all the Trojan family, the folks who do not appreciate someone like out-of-touch loudmouth Bob Ryan of NPR calling the Trojans "a rogue program" under Pete Carroll and throwing so many USC players, coaches, alums, fans and the USC community under the bus to make his point. And he can do so because USC has never answered the NCAA's charges effectively while defending itself in every place these kinds of stupid, uninformed comments come up.

Now it can. Call the NCAA out here. Give them one more thing to think about. And put this out in the court of public opinion where people can easily figure out what's going on and why. The NCAA wants to keep everything they did under seal. USC wants it all out in the open for the world to see.

Who do you think has the truth on its side? Who really has the best interests of college athletics motivating them here -- the folks calling for transparency or the folks trying to cover it all up?

This should not be a hard call to make. And having taken its punishment, USC, unlike Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Auburn and North Carolina -- would not be trying to avoid anything or put athletics ahead of the rest of the University's mission.

It would be "Fighting On" for justice. And for USC. Just as Todd McNair has never given up the fight to clear his good name.

Here's your chance, USC. Make this a really good week for Trojan football -- and for all of Troy.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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