McNair Documents Reveal Little, But Tell Much


Last Wednesday, a new batch of documents released in the case of former USC assistant Todd McNair case. Among the many items contained in the documents obtained by the Orange County Register were emails between several high-ranking officials and Committee of Infractions (COI) officers discussing the handling of this case in a rather shady way. Despite the fact that these documents clearly outline a vendetta against McNair — that’s right, this case is about McNair, no matter how many people insist it’s about USC — they also clearly outline a vendetta against USC. The problem here is that they don’t really reveal anything outside the scope of what was already known.

While these latest emails add to the mounting evidence against the NCAA, because much of this was covered, at least in part, by the previous document dump, they don’t add too terribly much to our working knowledge of this case. What we knew in March is what we know now, it just has a few additional spices for flavor. It would certainly be foolish to dismiss the value of these documents given that USC cognoscenti have long maintained that they were done hard by the NCAA, but their overall worth at this point in the case is rather minimal.

Most of this stuff was already contained in the 500-page dump that took place earlier this year and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller had already outlined this conversation in a previous ruling. In many ways, this latest document dump is just an unabridged version of a story most USC fans had already read. A story that gets worse and worse for the NCAA with each passing ruling.

One of the bigger problems with USC media and fans making this about the university is the fact that the university opted not to even pursue legal matters. To be fair, they said they retained the right to do so in the future and many around Los Angeles are wondering when the future is going to arrive, but that’s neither here nor there. This case was and always has been about a man stripped of his ability to do his job for no other reason than politics among NCAA members.

As I had previously written for Reign of Troy, McNair is the one who has been hard done here. USC may have missed out on a couple recruits and a decent bowl in 2011, but they largely walked away from this debacle no worse for wear. The best recruits in the nation still want to play for the Trojans, the school continues to create amazing partnerships with people like Dr. Dre, the Trojans are among the preseason’s top teams for many pundits, and USC returned to the bowl picture with wins over Fresno State and Nebraska.

For all the success and attention USC has received, McNair remains a pariah in the sport and continues to spend many of his formative years battling a legal case that USC opted to sit out. Frustrating as that must be for McNair, the importance of his work may be something that is talked about for years to come. In a crazy turn of events, the worst moment of McNair’s life may end up becoming the reason his name becomes part of college football’s illustrious history, and not in the bad way that most people would think.

As more and more of these blatantly biased emails begin to surface, the NCAA is going to find it harder and harder to double-talk their way around them in the media and in the courts. With each document dump, McNair’s reasons for agreeing to a settlement get fewer and fewer. With two judges already ruling in favor of McNair and many more judges taking issue with the NCAA’s line of reasoning on many matters, it seems like an inevitability that judgement day will soon be at hand for the organization.

Though these documents don’t add much to our working knowledge of the case, they still provide a solid support foundation to a growing tower of evidence. The NCAA has operated without oversight for far too long, a fact most have been steadily realizing. Even those explicitly charged with being fair and reasoned seem incapable of meeting the job description. Much like our understanding of space and the ocean, there is still so much out there to be discovered and unearthed. It’s just a matter of time and resources.

Even though these documents don’t reveal much, they revealed enough for people to know that the only amateurs involved with the NCAA are the people in charge.

About the author: Josh Webb is an American sports journalist living in California. For the past five years, Josh has covered American football at the college (university) level. He covers the University of Southern California football and Fresno State football for the Scout Network. Prior to this, he covered the sport of Mixed Martial Arts for two years. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Public Education from California State University, Bakersfield. You can find him on Twitter: @FightOnTwist for American football or @FightOnTwistFC for international football.