A California judge issued a decision in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month ruling the NCAA’s show-cause penalties are a violation of state law. This could have massive implications for future NCAA penalties.
In what is being deemed a “tentative” ruling, judge Frederick Shaller said the NCAA’s show-cause ruling against former USC running backs coach Todd McNair was an “unlawful restraint” on pursuing a lawful profession. Shaller continued:
“McNair’s ability to practice his profession as a college football coach has been restricted, if not preempted, not only in Los Angeles and California, but in every state in the country.”
McNair had sued the NCAA alleging defamation and a number of other charges. He lost his defamation case, as some jurors claimed they believed McNair’s side, but the standard for defamation was not met.
Shaller continued on the show-cause punishment:
“The trial testimony and reasonable inferences drawn from such testimony established to a preponderance of evidence that the Show-Cause Order imposed as a penalty against McNair was, in his case, in essence equivalent to a college coaching career-terminating sanction since no NCAA member school, including USC, would likely risk the exposure to sanctions that would impact their athletic programs and lucrative media-related and athletic program income or status by even considering hiring or retaining McNair at any later date after sanctions expired because his reputation was tainted by the penalty.”
Both parties have until September 14 to file objections to Shaller’s ruling. California state law ensures, “Every citizen shall retain the right to pursue any lawful employment and enterprise of their choice.”
If the ruling is upheld and accepted, it would mean the NCAA’s show-cause penalties would simply not apply to California schools. If that happens, you can bet universities in other states would sue for the same protection.
This would be an enormous blow to the NCAA’s enforcement arm, as a show-cause penalty is one of its most effective means of punishment.