Another curious Committee on Infractions ("COI") member who sat in judgment of USC was Notre Dame Senior Deputy Director of Athletics Missy Conboy. Conboy played basketball at Notre Dame (serving as team captain her senior year) and has spent over 25 years in Notre Dame's athletics administration. She served as interim athletic director from June to July 2008. "No one laughs when Missy Conboy says she might like to be the athletic director at Notre Dame someday," said the Chicago Tribune in 1988.
For the uninitiated: USC and Notre Dame play every year in what is billed as the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. But things had not gone well for ND in the series in the 2000's. When Conboy sat for the USC hearing, SC had beaten ND eight straight years, the longest streak of futility against SC in the history of the rivalry.
NCAA rule 32.1.3 seems tailor-made for such a situation. It directs:
"Any member of the Committee on Infractions or the Infractions Appeals Committee shall neither appear at the hearing or oral argument nor participate on the committee when the member . . . has a personal, professional or institutional affiliation that reasonably would result in the appearance of prejudice."
Conboy's presence on the COI for the USC case raised an obvious appearance of prejudice. The resulting penalties, a two year postseason ban, free agency for juniors and seniors, and loss of 30 scholarships over three years, dramatically weakened the principal rival of Conboy's Notre Dame.
Five months and several transfers later, Notre Dame beat USC 20-16 for its first win in the series since 2001.
Incredibly, recognition of the conflict did come in a twisted way. On one issue where Conboy's affiliation might result in her voting in SC's favor, television, Conboy recused herself. COI Chair Paul Dee announced that the COI considered a television ban and that Conboy (whose Notre Dame would have also been affected by the potential blackout of the SC-ND game) took no part in those deliberations.