USC AD: Papers affirm penalty unfair

LOS ANGELES -- Documents filed by the NCAA that revealed private communications among committee members related to the investigation of USC's football program "are cause for concern about the NCAA's own institutional control," Trojans athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

Almost 500 pages of documents, which include emails, interview transcripts, phone records and other communication, were part of a filing Tuesday in former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair's defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in the Second District of the California Court of Appeal.

"These recent documents confirm what we've believed all along, that we were treated unfairly in this investigation and its penalties," Haden said.

The NCAA had fought to keep the documents sealed, arguing, according to the Los Angeles Times, "that not doing so would hinder future investigations by the organization." The court rejected the argument.

The documents were obtained by the Times.

The NCAA responded Friday to Haden and USC, saying, "These publicly filed documents illustrate how the Committee on Infractions underwent thorough deliberations consistent with the policies and procedures governing the infractions process," according to a statement obtained by the Times.

"The documents, including committee's email correspondence after the hearing which has received the most attention, further demonstrate that the Committee on Infractions is not a body of single-minded individuals but rather a group of individuals with different perspectives who worked diligently to reach a consensus based on information presented to the committee."

In the documents, one committee member criticized the Trojans for hiring Lane Kiffin as head coach.

Rodney Uphoff, the NCAA coordinator of appeals, did not have voting privileges on the infractions committee but brought up the school's decision to replace former coach Pete Carroll with Kiffin.

"A failure to sanction USC both in basketball and football rewards USC for swimming with sharks. Although they all talked about the importance of compliance at the hearing, winning at any cost seems more important," Uphoff wrote. "Paul Dee was bought in at Miami to clean up a program with serious problems. USC has responded to its problems by bringing in Lane Kiffin. They need a wake-up call that doing things the wrong way will have serious consequences. In light of all of the problems at USC, a failure to send a serious message in this case undercuts efforts to help clean up NCAA sports."

Uphoff also related the NCAA's investigation to the one that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, which left more than 160 people dead in 1995.

"The evidence in this case is, for example, is markedly stronger than in the OKC bombing case, which was built entirely on circumstantial evidence," Uphoff wrote.

Uphoff also sent an email to Shepard Cooper, the director of the infractions committee, in which he said he had not been able to sleep for three nights because he feared the committee would be too lenient on USC in regards to the school's football violations.

In an email that was shared with the voting members of the infractions committee, Roscoe Howard, a nonvoting member of the committee and a former U.S. attorney, wrote, "McNair should have all inferences negatively inferred against him ... we need not say why we disbelieve him, we only need to let the public, or whomever, know that we do disbelieve him."

McNair, who coached running backs under Carroll, was given a show-cause penalty by the NCAA as part of the sanctions levied against USC in June 2010. This came after he was told by Carroll's successor, Kiffin, that he would be retained on staff, according to the filing. However, McNair was later informed his contract would not be renewed as a result of the penalty. He has not coached since.

USC was penalized for a lack of institutional control following a four-year investigation by the NCAA into improper benefits given to Heisman Trophy winner and Trojans running back Reggie Bush dating back to the 2004 national championship. The Trojans were hit with a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation and severe scholarship restrictions that have only recently been lifted.

USC coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday that he had not read the documents.

"I don't know exactly what's there, but it really doesn't affect us," Sarkisian said. "It's something for people on chat boards to talk about but really doesn't affect our approach to tomorrow's practice."

In a statement released by the university Wednesday night, USC said it "hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve."