Larry Scott: Ruling threatens NCAA membership for California schools

In response to a California judge's tentative ruling that show-cause order provisions in the NCAA bylaws violate California law, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott filed a written declaration stating his belief that the ruling "would threaten the NCAA membership of the Pac-12's California schools."

He based that belief on the premise that all NCAA member schools must compete on a level playing field, as laid out by the NCAA Division I Manual, which includes compliance with show-cause provisions.

"If California law prevents institutions in that state from honoring such commitments, it is hard to see how the Pac-12's Member Universities in California could continue to meet the requirements of NCAA membership," Scott wrote.

Scott's declaration was included as part of the NCAA's response to Judge Frederick Shaller's ruling that came last month as part of former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair's civil lawsuit vs. the NCAA. In May, a jury in Los Angeles voted 9-3 in favor of the NCAA following a three-week defamation trial stemming from McNair's involvement in the Reggie Bush extra-benefits scandal.

In 2010, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions issued a report that concluded McNair "knew or should have known" that Bush was engaged in violations with a would-be agent while playing for USC and McNair "provided false and misleading information to the enforcement staff."

As a result, it issued McNair a one-year show-cause penalty and one-year recruiting ban that McNair's lead attorney, Bruce Broillet, argued in court ended his career as a high-level coach.

A show-cause order requires an NCAA member institution to demonstrate to the COI why it should not be subject to a penalty for "not taking appropriate disciplinary or corrective action" against a staff member found to have committed an NCAA violation.

A declaration from Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell was also included as an exhibit in the NCAA's objection.

"I believe that the Court's tentative ruling would harm, not benefit, the Big West and its California member schools, as well as all California universities and colleges that compete in NCAA Division I athletics in any sport," Farrell wrote.

"Voiding the show-cause provisions of the NCAA Manual under California law would jeopardize the ability of the Big West's California member schools to remain a part of the NCAA and to have access to the competitive and scholarship opportunities the NCAA because those schools could no longer comply with all provisions of the NCAA Manual."

It's unclear what steps the NCAA would take to work with its California schools should Shaller's ruling be upheld. "The tentative ruling, if adopted, would also undermine the integrity of the Pac-12," Scott wrote.

"It is unclear how the Pac-12 could function with a third of its members unable to meet all requirements of NCAA membership."

He also made the case that the absence of show-cause orders risks worsening problems identified in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball because it would remove a major deterrent to committing rules violations.

"The Pac-12 and its member universities are not parties to this case and did not have an opportunity to be hard on this issue," Scott wrote. "I respectfully ask the Court to consider the views of conferences and member institutions before deciding this important issue."