Ex-USC assistant Todd McNair granted new trial in lawsuit vs. NCAA

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair, now an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has been granted a new trial in his long-standing defamation lawsuit against the NCAA.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller issued an order for a new trial Wednesday morning, citing insufficient evidence to justify the original verdict and implied bias from a juror.

In May, a jury in Los Angeles ruled in favor of the NCAA following a three-week defamation trial stemming from McNair's involvement in the Reggie Bush extra benefits scandal. McNair was officially named as the Bucs' running backs coach on Wednesday.

Shaller ruled the jury answered a special jury verdict question incorrectly, which triggered a victory for the NCAA.

"In the court's judgment, no reasonable trier of fact could have made the determination that answer to Special Verdict Question 3 should be 'NO,'" Shaller wrote.

Shaller also ruled the jury foreperson, an attorney, should not have been able to participate on the jury due to an implied bias. The juror's law firm, Latham & Watkins, was part of the NCAA's legal team on the McNair case. He did not work on the case, didn't work in the same office as the firm's lawyers that did and professed impartiality, but that didn't matter to the judge.

"Permitting Juror No. 2 to remain on the jury and participate in deliberations and the verdict resulted a miscarriage of justice and in Plaintiff being deprived of a fair trial," Shaller wrote. "Without Juror No. 2, it is likely a different outcome would have resulted."

The NCAA, in a statement by chief legal officer Donald Remy, said it will appeal Shaller's decision.

"This is an extremely disappointing ruling from the trial court judge, who presided over the jury selection, four-week trial and multi-day juror deliberations," Remy said in the statement. "There is no basis to disregard the decision the citizens of Los Angeles County reached after careful deliberation.

"We will appeal this decision and continue to defend the ability of NCAA member schools to both create and enforce its rules."

In 2010, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions issued a report that concluded McNair "knew or should have known" that Bush was engaged in violations with a would-be agent while playing for USC, and McNair "provided false and misleading information to the enforcement staff." As a result, it issued McNair a one-year show-cause penalty and one-year recruiting ban that McNair's attorney argued ended his career as a high-level coach.

McNair has not coached at the college or professional level since his tenure at USC ended after the 2009 season. He was an assistant high school coach in Southern California this fall.
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