LOS ANGELES — After two full days of testimony in former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair’s defamation trial against the NCAA, just two witnesses have appeared before the court.
The tedious, slow-moving pace of the trial — which is expected to last a few weeks — falls in line with how the case has progressed since it was filed in June 2011 and already appears to be testing the patience of members of the jury. On Tuesday, the first day of testimony, multiple jury members appeared to have trouble staying attentive and one, who at one point appeared to fall asleep, was dismissed and replaced with an alternate.
A 2012 video deposition of Shep Cooper, who served as a liaison to the Committee on Infractions, took up the bulk of Tuesday’s proceedings before former NCAA investigator Angie Cretors took the stand at the end of the day and remained there through the end of the day Wednesday. Cretors’ testimony will conclude Thursday morning.
One of the most noteworthy parts of Cretors’ testimony was when she admitted, under questioning from McNair’s attorney, Bruce Broillet, that mistakes repeatedly occurred when investigators interviewed McNair. They asked McNair about a call between him and Lloyd Lake — one of the men who provided improper benefits to Reggie Bush while he was at USC — they told him took place in January of 2005. The call actually took place a year later and investigators never circled back with McNair to clarify their questioning after realizing the mistake was made.
This error, in part, led Cretors to admit the COI report that included heavy sanctions for USC — and a show-cause order for McNair — was factually incorrect.
Cretors, who said she still believes that McNair was not credible during the original investigation, explained they did not feel it was necessary to circle back with McNair because he said he had no memory of ever speaking with Lake.
NCAA attorney Kosta Stojilkovic took aim at McNair’s credibility when he pointed out, while questioning Cretors, that McNair told investigators his relationship with his players was “next to none,” then showed a log that showed nearly 600 phone calls between him and Bush.
Cooper’s association with the case is largely based on an email he wrote to a non-voting member of the COI, in which he called McNair a “lying, morally bankrupt criminal, in my view, and a hypocrite of the highest order.”
Cooper explained the email was simply an opinion he shared privately with an individual and did not believe it influenced the committee.
When Cretors is finished Thursday morning, the next witness is expected to be Rodney Uphoff, the former NCAA coordinator of appeals and a non-voting member of the COI. Uphoff is known in this case for an email he sent to another non-voting member of the committee that said, in part, “A failure to sanction USC both in basketball and football rewards USC for swimming with sharks.”