Because of what it says was an "administrative error", the NCAA said Friday it initially misinformed USC about the school's ability to appeal what are a significant portion of its major penalties related in the Reggie Bush case, CBSSports.com has learned.
USC was given a form last summer incorrectly indicating it had the ability to appeal an unethical conduct charge against former assistant Todd McNair. The NCAA said that once the error was discovered, USC was notified.
That didn't stop USC from still appealing McNair's penalty. That attempt was admonished by the NCAA when its appeals report was released on Thursday. It said the point was "moot" and that USC "did not have standing" to appeal. The NCAA said Friday that USC knew it could not appeal McNair's penalty before submitting its official written appeal. USC appeared before the NCAA appeals committee to state its case in January.
On April 29, McNair himself lost his personal appeal to the NCAA to have the charge removed from his record. He intends to sue the NCAA. USC officials could not be reached for comment.
According to a source, USC was given a notice of appeals form that gave it the opportunity to appeal McNair's finding. That apparently was the "administrative error". The school chose to appeal McNair's penalty, and returned the form to the NCAA which accepted it. Approximately two months later, the source said, the NCAA ruled that USC could not appeal McNair's penalty.
The NCAA built a significant portion of the case against USC in its assertion that McNair knew about the relationship between Reggie Bush and would-be marketer/convicted felon Lloyd Lake. Bush took thousands of dollars in cash and extra benefits from Lake, according to the NCAA.
The point is not that USC or McNair would have necessarily won relief from the NCAA if the mistake was not made. The appeals report makes no mention of an error by the NCAA. In refusing to consider the appeal, the NCAA cited bylaws 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 that seemingly have little or nothing to do with the right to appeal. (See Page 17)
22.214.171.124 says only that a school may not request an in-person appearance before the appeals committee unless the institution had made an in-person appearance before the infractions committee. 126.96.36.199 says only that an individual can appeal:
"An involved individual may appeal the Committee on Infractions' findings and/or show cause order imposed for violations of NCAA legislation in which he or she is named."
That's where it gets murky. When this brought this up to the NCAA, a spokesperson said "generally speaking" a school cannot appeal findings imposed on an individual. So already we've got 1) an administrative error by the NCAA; 2) questionable interpretations by the Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee and 3) a slammed-door in USC's face changed to "generally speaking."
CBSSports.com was able to find an Alabama case from 1995 -- 16 years ago -- when the school was allowed to appeal a faculty rep's penalties. When that bit of information was emailed to the NCAA, CBSSports.com was told that the appeals process was much different in 1995. Back then appeals had to be heard together. That was changed in January 1996 to separate the appeals between school and individual to make the process more fair.
Then CBSSports.com came across a 1994 case where a Texas State baseball coach found guilty of unethical conduct was able to appeal as an individual. An NCAA spokesperson explained that the coach's ability to appeal was dependent on the school filing a notice of appeal.