Missteps on McNair Page 3
Another enforcement agent asked about what she described as "the July call." Elsewhere, the transcript shows the call was described as happening at 2:32 a.m. and lasting 1:34, reversing the numbers.
The questioning errors didn't end there.
CASE SUMMARY - ALLEGATION NO. 3
An important exchange between Enforcement Agent Richard Johanningmeier and Todd McNair places the assistant coach in Jan. 2005 rather than Jan. 2006.
RJ: Okay. This is January 2005. According to your telephone records, on Saturday,
January 8th, 2005, you had a two minute and 32, uh, second telephone
conversation with that same San Diego number, that 619. And for the record, let
me read that into the record. The number was 619/***/****. Tell us about that?
TM: I have no idea. I don't recognize that number.
RJ: Okay. And then subsequently on January 8th, the same day, at 2:50 p.m., you
placed a one minute call to Bush; and at 3:26 p.m., Bush called you and that call
lasted for 13 minutes and 23 seconds. Help us with that sequence? So again, I
wanna set the record here, there's the call to the San Diego number comes to you,
there's a one minute and 34 second conversation.
RJ: You place a call to Bush for one minute. Bush then returns that call and there's a
13 minute, almost a 13 and a half minute conversation that occurs.
TM: And this is when?
RJ: This is on January 8th, 2005.
TM: January 8th, I mean, I, I have no idea. January 8th.
RJ: Okay. You still don't know --
TM: Uh, that's two --
RJ: -- recognize this?
TM: -- that's 2005. That's the, uh, that's 2005, that's after the Orange Bowl, that's a
week after the Orange Bowl. Uh, I could've, I don't know, I could, I don't know.
I mean, I could be on the, on the road, I could be on the road recruiting 'cause the
Orange Bowl was probably, that's the championship game, it's probably a week
after the first, seventh, I'm probably on the road. I don't, I don't know.
RJ: Okay. So --
TM: I'm probably on the road recruiting. I don't know.
Johanningmeier, who had misstated the nature of the call to Lake, would have similar factual inconsistencies in his questioning of McNair; asking the USC coach about a call that he said was made "Jan. 8, 2005," -- getting the year wrong.
There would be four more "2005" references in this session with no one catching the wrong year.
Given the 2005 date, McNair recounted what he was doing the week after USC's BCS championship game against Oklahoma, not after the 2006 Texas game, when Bush was a junior headed off early to the NFL.
At that time in 2005, McNair was on the road recruiting Kyle Moore in Georgia and Brian Cushing in New Jersey. Both signed letters of intent with USC in February of 2005.
As a result of the enforcement staff's mistakes, McNair appears to have never had the chance to respond about the call that the Committee used to convict him. The NCAA admitted that its staff had considered questioning McNair again, but declined since McNair "was on the record and adamant that he had never spoken to Lake."
The Committee agreed with the enforcement staff's finding that Lake, despite having given a detailed answer to a key question with a false premise, was more credible.
The Committee also agreed with its staff's recommendation, finding that McNair had received the incriminating knowledge of the Bush, Lake and Michaels violations as a result of a phone call lasting two minutes and 32 seconds. A call in which, investigators said, Lake was threatening "to go public," and "attempted to get [McNair] to convince [Bush] to either adhere to the agency agreement or reimburse Bush and Michaels."
The Jan. 8, 2006 call that the enforcement staff had mischaracterized as to who made it and when it was made, seems to have provided the NCAA its proverbial smoking gun on McNair.
In a call that took "less time than it would take to order a pizza", as McNair's attorney described in his Response according to the Infractions Report, the Committee determined that the assistant coach learned about the scheme and then failed to report it to USC's compliance office. McNair is then accused of falsely signing a document saying he had no knowledge of any violations in order to avoid being implicated.
USC, in its Response to the Committee, objected to what it described as a flawed process when the NCAA denied USC any opportunity to take part in the questioning of Lake.
USC stated in the Response that Lake had a motive to go after McNair.
"He blamed the assistant football coach for student-athlete 1's decision to go elsewhere and even made the completely unsubstantiated and false allegation that the assistant football coach was paid $50,000 by Sports marketer A (Michael Ornstein) for delivering student-athlete 1 to his sports marketing firm."
McNair, who had no comment for this report, is being represented by independent legal counsel, Scott Tompsett.
"You have to overwhelm the Committee with evidence," Buckner said, "you have to blow them out of the water if you challenge what the staff believes. If you don't, they're going to believe the staff."
Stay tuned to USCfootball.com for more on this developing story as we document further findings from the investigation as they become available.
Gerard Martinez contributed to this story.
Bryan Fischer and Dan Weber cover the Trojans program for USCFootball.com. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.