NCAA to Disclose Documents Related to Former USC Coach’s Defamation Action

A California appeals court denied on Friday the NCAA’s attempt to seal hundreds of documents in connection with a defamation suit brought by a former University of Southern California (USC) assistant football coach Todd McNair who was sanctioned for his part in the Reggie Bush scandal.

Previously, the trial court blocked the NCAA’s bid to seal hundreds of pages of internal emails and other documents in the lawsuit where McNair asserted breach of contract and defamation claims among others.

Although the NCAA argued disclosing the records would compromise its abilities to investigate and embarrass confidential witnesses, the appeals court disagreed.

Writing the opinion for the appellate panel, Justice Richard D. Aldrich said,

“We are not convinced by the NCAA’s contention that public disclosure of its documents will make future investigations more difficult for the NCAA to conduct.  We conclude the NCAA failed to carry its burden to demonstrate that its interest in the confidentiality of its enforcement proceedings overrides the constitutional right of access and the presumption of openness, or how this interest in confidentiality would be prejudiced if the documents at issue were disclosed.”

The Bush/O.J. Mayo scandal that arose from improper benefits received by the players and their families resulted in stripping of the USC’s 2004 football championship title as well as a two-year postseason ban and loss of 30 scholarships over three years.

In response to the decision, the NCAA stated,

“The NCAA remains fully committed to its obligation to member schools, student-athletes and third parties to protect the confidentiality of the infractions process.  As such we are considering our options in light of the court’s decision.”

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