NCAA Argues Against Unsealing Documents in McNair Case


Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Days after the LATimes and NYTimes filed an application with the California Court of Appeals asking to unseal the court records in the Todd McNair vs. NCAA case, the NCAA has decided to fight back, arguing that such a measure would damage the integrity of the case.

According to, the NCAA maintains that the enforcement process “will be substantially prejudiced by public disclosure” of the currently sealed documents. In a 71-page document, college athletics’ governing body replies to the suit filed by the two media outlets, adding yet another level of intrigue to this already-contentious case with McNair. Though the NCAA wants the courts to believe it would be detrimental to unseal the documents,’s Dennis Dodd explains how that argument doesn’t hold much water anymore:

"Central to its argument is that disclosure of the information would compromise the investigative process. It is a time-worn tactic used by the NCAA, one that doesn’t hold much weight considering the challenge to the system in the Florida State case. Less than a month before the USC penalties were announced in June 2010, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the NCAA had to release documents relating to the FSU academic fraud scandal. The documents were apparently covered by Florida’s “Sunshine Law” because FSU is a public institution. NCAA vice president David Berst had earlier testified that such an action would “rip the heart” out of the enforcement process. Since those FSU documents were released (May 2010), 27 major infractions cases have been completed in FBS–or one every 1.37 months."

With a precedent set–though slightly different because FSU is a public school–McNair could see a verdict in his favor.

McNair and his attorneys want to unseal the documents allegedly showing improper involvement by the NCAA staff in the USC case that concluded three years ago. In November 2012, a judge overseeing the case concluded that at least three persons may have improperly tried to influence the NCAA infractions committee regarding McNair’s involvement in the case, a fact that if true, could cause not only a huge blow to the NCAA’s already declining reputation but also a changed narrative to USC’s sanctions.

Though there seems to be an uptick in activity in this case this summer, don’t expect this case to be resolved any time soon; the NCAA is still appealing an initial verdict in this defamation lawsuit, so expect this to last at least another year, or two.