Todd McNair appeals NCAA findings

Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair, who was a key figure in the NCAA investigation that led to football sanctions against the Trojans, is appealing the NCAA's findings and sanctions against him, claiming misconduct by the body's investigators.

In the appeal, made public Tuesday, McNair alleges that the NCAA Committee on Infractions committed misconduct and mischaracterized facts in the case.

The appeal alleges the Committee on Infractions used false statements to support an unethical conduct finding against McNair, which resulted in a "show cause" penalty against him in addition to sanctions against USC.

The NCAA declined to comment on the appeal.

In its ruling, which cited USC for a "lack of institutional control" and resulted in a two-year bowl ban and the loss of scholarships, the NCAA found that McNair had or should have had knowledge of violations involving former USC running back Reggie Bush receiving improper benefits and should have reported them.

The NCAA also found that McNair had communications with Lloyd Lake regarding a prospective business arrangement and ruled that McNair had provided "false and misleading" information during the investigation.

McNair's appeal claims discrepancies between McNair's testimony and the testimony of Lake, a man who had hoped to be involved in a fledgling marketing company involving Bush.

It further claims the Committee on Infractions mischaracterized and misstated evidence and used "an erroneously low standard" in finding his testimony was not credible. It alleges McNair was denied fair process because the enforcement staff excluded USC from participating in the interviews of Lake and his family.

"Specifically, the [Committee on Infractions] found that McNair's recollection of certain events was
less likely than other versions and then used that innocuous finding to cast grave doubt on
McNair's credibility," the appeal said. "If the COI is going to denounce an individual's credibility in a public
infractions report, it must find that the individual made statements that are unbelievable, inconceivable, unimaginable or unthinkable, not merely unlikely."

The appeal also suggests that the Committee on Infractions had impermissible communications with the NCAA enforcement staff about the infractions report and alleges that the NCAA has prejudged McNair's appeal.

McNair is no longer a USC employee, as his contract was allowed to expire earlier this year. As part of its ruling, the NCAA imposed a "show cause" penalty against him which prevents him from having contact with recruits for one year.

USC may hope that McNair's claims could have a positive effect on its appeal. However, there is a high burden of proof for the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee to overturn a ruling by the Committee on Infractions.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.