LOS ANGELES -- In a video deposition taken last month, NCAA president Mark Emmert stood by the process that led to heavy sanctions for the USC football team and a show-cause order for former assistant football coach Todd McNair.
"I have seen nothing that has convinced me that the Committee on Infractions or the appeals committee should have found any other answer in that case," Emmert said.
Emmert's deposition was played Tuesday and Wednesday for the jury in McNair's defamation trial against the NCAA.
"I don't see anything that has convinced me that they erred in making that finding," Emmert said.
The NCAA fought to prevent Emmert from participating in the trial, arguing he was walled off from pertinent details of the process of the investigation. However, Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller granted the deposition. Emmert was named NCAA president in 2010, shortly after the extra-benefits investigation into former star USC running back Reggie Bush was complete.
During the deposition, filmed April 4 in Indianapolis, McNair's attorney, Bruce Broillet, took aim at a comment Emmert made in a 2010 interview, when he said: "Everybody looks at the Reggie Bush case and says, 'It took them a long time.' But they got it right, I think."
At the time the comment was published, McNair's appeals process was not complete, which Broillet seemingly raised to show Emmert might have unduly influenced the process in a way that worked against McNair.
Broillet also probed the NCAA's response to behavior from individuals who were part of the investigation and appeals process that surfaced as a result of McNair's lawsuit -- namely Shep Cooper, who served as a liaison to the Committee on Infractions. The COI is the group that issued the sanctions to USC and McNair.
Cooper, whose video deposition was shown at the beginning of the trial, referred to McNair as a "lying, morally bankrupt criminal in my view, and a hypocrite of the highest order," in an email to a non-voting member of the COI.
Emmert acknowledged Cooper should not have taken an advocacy position during the process and said his actions were "ill-advised and inappropriate and that certainly had material ramifications for him."
Cooper remains with the NCAA as director of the Office of the COI, but he was passed over for a job after a reorganization at the NCAA, and he no longer is in charge of the office, Emmert said.
McNair is expected to take the stand Thursday morning, and his testimony likely will last into the day Friday. He has been present for every day of the trial, sitting silently in the front row of the cramped courtroom, occasionally reacting subtly in frustration to bits of testimony.
While on the stand Tuesday before Emmert's deposition was played, former COI member Brian Halloran called McNair's punishment a 2 on scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe.
"If anything, it was on the lighter side of what he could have expected to receive," Halloran said.
The trial was expected to last until May 11. However, there is reason to believe it could extend past that date after some minor delays. On Wednesday, a juror was absent in the morning for medical reasons, and the proceedings did not resume until the afternoon.
After McNair's testimony is complete, his legal team is expected to call two more witnesses before it rests its case. At that point, the NCAA will present its case to the jury.