The NCAA enforcement staff's mission to tie USC assistant coach Todd McNair to knowledge of the benefits provided to Reggie Bush began with a birthday party for another famous San Diego runningback. Lloyd Lake alleged that he paid for a two-night hotel stay for Bush to attend Marshall Faulk's March 5, 2005, birthday bash in San Diego, Bush's hometown. The hotel receipt Lake produced showed a room at the San Diego Manchester Hyatt Regency was paid for the nights of March 4 (Friday) and March 5 (Saturday), 2005.
Lake and the NCAA claimed that shortly after Lake checked Bush into the room, McNair came to the room. Lake alleged that Bush introduced Lake to McNair as the man who paid for the room. Finally, Lake claimed that McNair and Lake spoke at Faulk's birthday party, and that Lake told McNair about the plans for a sports agency and gave McNair a New Era business card. McNair denies Lake's entire account, arguing that he was not in San Diego at the time Lake alleges and did not meet Lake at the party.
Lake's story was thoroughly discredited to the point the NCAA Committee on Infractions ultimately declined to rely on it. Most notably, McNair's cell phone records place him in Los Angeles at the time of the supposed hotel room meeting with Bush and Lake. In fact, cell phone records place him in Los Angeles all day on March 4 and through March 5 until 9:21pm. The first call McNair made outside of the LA metro area was at 9:52pm on March 5.
A March 2005 meeting is also contradicted by Lake's then-girlfriend Maiesha Jones, who told NCAA investigators that Lake told her that he first met McNair in October 2005, six months after the Faulk birthday party. If Lake first met McNair in October 2005, then he could not have talked to McNair in the hotel room March 4 or at the party March 5. Jones also testified she was at Lake's side for the entire party and that she never met McNair. Finally, Lake's sister testified she was also with Lake at the party and never met the USC coach.
The hotel meeting Lake describes also seems unlikely in light of Lake's testimony that Bush and Lake treated their dealings like drug deals in terms of secrecy in order to protect Bush's eligibility. Casting further doubt on Lake's story is his claim to have given McNair a New Era business card when in fact Lake's fledgling sports agency was called Aggressive Integrity at the time (it changed its name from Aggressive Integrity to New Era in November 2005, a full 8 months after the party).
Lake's testimony on this topic is impossible in some respects (the hotel meeting) and contradicted by his own sister and then-girlfriend in other respects (the party meeting), supporting USC's argument that Lake attempted to manufacture a connection between McNair and Lake. Yet apparently wary to recognize that their star witness had been caught in a lie (and not the only one), the NCAA declined to acknowledge that Lake's version of events was demonstrably fabricated. Instead, the NCAA simply concluded that there was not enough evidence to make a finding against McNair on this point, citing "unresolved discrepancies."
But Lake's story suffers from more than "unresolved discrepancies." It suffers from being wholly discredited by cell phone records and the testimony of his sister and girlfriend. The NCAA's case against Todd McNair required a finding that McNair knew about the nature of Lake's relationship with Bush. And while Lake provided documentary evidence that supports his claim of providing benefits to Bush, the claim that McNair knew is entirely dependent on Lake's word. But instead of treating the San Diego evidence as a signal to be cautious about Lake's testimony concerning McNair (consistent with USC's theory that Lake invented his testimony about McNair both for revenge and personal benefit), the NCAA did the incredible: they pointed to the San Diego evidence to support a finding that McNair, not Lake, was not credible.