The NCAA has been locked in several major court battles in the state of California but a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court just dealt a huge blow to the organization’s ability to sanction coaches caught up in infractions cases.
According to the LA Times, judge Frederick Shaller finalized an earlier ruling that said that show-cause penalties given to coaches violated state law as “an unlawful restraint” on pursuing a lawful profession. At the heart of the matter is former USC assistant Todd McNair, who has been battling the NCAA over the one-year show-cause he was handed as part of the Reggie Bush case involving the Trojans over a decade ago.
“McNair’s ability to practice his profession as a college football coach has been restricted, if not preempted, not only in Los Angeles, but in every state in the country,” Shaller wrote in his decision.
The ruling is significant far beyond USC and McNair’s case as it essentially strips the NCAA’s ability to give coaches and administrators a show-cause (as in, schools must show-cause why they should hire individuals) in major infractions cases. While a few figures, like Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, wrote into the court saying this could affect the ability of California schools to remain in the NCAA, nobody expects the front office folks in Indianapolis to start kicking out UCLA, Stanford, Cal and others starting next week.
“The NCAA disagrees with the court’s ruling, which is wrong as a matter of law and does not impact Todd McNair’s show-cause order that expired more than six years ago,” the NCAA said in a statement. “We will explore all avenues for relief to ensure that NCAA member schools in California can continue to abide by the same rules as the rest of the NCAA’s membership.”
We’ll count this as a big ‘L’ for the NCAA in court even though the decision figures to be appealed going forward. Something says a few other states might take notice of the ruling though and wonder if NCAA bylaws and decisions may be at odds with other laws either way.