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Judge in Todd McNair suit says NCAA 'malicious' in investigation of USC

Los Angeles judge denies NCAA request to have Todd McNair's lawsuit against thrown out.

Stephen Dunn

In what serves as a surprise to no one who objectively followed the NCAA's investigation, and subsequent punishment, of USC for violations surrounding tailback Reggie Bush, an LA judged called the NCAA "malicious" in its handling of the case on Wednesday, and ruled that former assistant coach Todd McNair's lawsuit against the NCAA can move forward.

McNair, who was specifically named in the NCAA's final report, is suing the NCAA for defamation - a lawsuit which college athletics' governing body was seeking to have dismissed. However, LA Superior Court's Judge Frederick Shaller ruled in favor of McNair's counsel, allowing the case to move forward.

The NCAA's report on ethical breaches by Todd McNair was flawed, and the former coach has shown a probability he can win his defamation claims, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller said.

The NCAA had sought to have the case dismissed, but Shaller disagreed. He said after reviewing sealed documents in the McNair inquiry, which was tied to a gift scandal involving Heisman Trophy-winner Reggie Bush, he was convinced that the actions of NCAA investigators were "over the top."

His ruling states emails between an investigative committee member, an NCAA worker and a person who works in the agency's appeals division "tend to show ill will or hatred" toward McNair.

Another important note in Judge Shaller's ruling is that he denied the NCAA's wish to have the case documents sealed, a move which the NCAA claimed could impact future investigations. The unsealing of documents is believed to be a move that will greatly benefit McNair's case.