Missteps on McNair Page 2
While allegations against McNair about the March 2005 birthday party were dismissed by the Committee due to discrepancies, Oct. 29, 2005 and Jan. 8, 2006 remained key dates in the NCAA Infractions Report.
Bush was to host a recruit after the Oct. 29, 2005 USC-Washington State game considered the nation's the top high school prospect.
But Bush, on a post-game outing with family and friends, including Lake and Michaels, left the recruit waiting in his hotel room while they ate dinner. The recruit would later verify that timeline.
Among the numerous calls McNair placed to Bush and the recruit that night, three were to a 619 area code that was not Bush's number. That number, cited from McNair's USC phone records, belonged to Lake.
The NCAA assistant director of enforcement, Richard Johanningmeier immediately questioned McNair's credibility when he denied knowing Lake or having any recollection of whose phone number he'd called that night.
"So as you can see from our
standpoint, we're having a lot of problems with your credibility and I have to tell
you that there's a good possibility that, uh, the NCAA could allege a, uh, ethical
conduct charge of providing us false, misleading information in the fact that you
denied that you know him, we have the telephone calls and we have a photograph
with you with people that you say that you don't know."
The phone calls and photo were cited as proof despite McNair's explanation that the three one-minute calls were to a number Bush had given him earlier when Bush's cellphone wasn't working. Lake, in his interview, didn't recall the phone calls.
The photo, which USC was never allowed to see in its original format, had been altered, according to an expert in the university's response to the NCAA's allegations. McNair and his easily recognized actor-friend had posed for photos frequently according to his testimony.
Despite pages of documentation covering the Oct. 29 calls, the photo and statements of McNair's "lack of credibility" the June 10 Infractions Report did not cite this as evidence that the assistant football coach must have had knowledge of the illegal benefits.
That left the Jan. 8, 2006 phone call.
The Committee said the call from Lake's phone to McNair's at 1:34 a.m., Jan. 8, 2006, and lasting two minutes and thirty two seconds, was "particularly troubling". Based on that call, it said the USC coach misled the enforcement staff and failed to inform USC compliance that he'd been told of the intent to funnel illegal benefits to Bush.
It was the same information about Bush the staff had originally concluded that McNair learned in San Diego 10 months earlier. But the Case Summary shows several inconsistencies in the evidence cited.
I just remember 'coach' . . . So I'm just assuming it's him, but I'm not sure.
- Maiesha Jones tells investigators in the Case Summary
The NCAA enforcement staff questioned Lake about the early Sunday morning call, which was the day before Bush was to sit down with USC head coach Pete Carroll, McNair and others to qualify a list of agents seeking to represent Bush. Johanningmeier mistakenly stated twice to Lake that the call in question came from McNair.
Just 10 days from returning to prison at the time of the Jan. 8 call, Lake did not admit that the call had been made from his phone, as telephone records showed. He answered the question as if it accurately reflected the situation, recounting why McNair had called him even though that was clearly not true.
The Case Summary does not show that NCAA investigators asked Lake to explain this discrepancy or his detailed answer about a phone call that the assistant coach did not make.
But the NCAA enforcement staff said it did have a corroborating witness, Lake's girlfriend, Maiesha Jones, who was asked this question by Johanningmeier:
"Do you have any knowledge . . . of uh, in, uh, of Lloyd making contact with anyone, uh, at USC about his concerns of, uh, about the deal falling apart and maybe calling to make their assistance? Do you have any knowledge of any contacts?"
Jones answered that she remembered such a call, "in like the beginning of February then, when he went to prison, or late January of '06, so I mean within a four-month period before that."
Lake's girlfriend thought maybe the call went to a USC coach, but wasn't sure it was McNair.
"I think it may have been him," Jones answered. "I know it wasn't Pete Carroll . . . I don't know for sure if it was that guy though . . . it might have been that guy . . . I just remember 'coach' . . . So I'm just assuming it's him, but I'm not sure."