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Query Into Reggie Bush Won’t Stay Under Wraps

(CN) - Hundreds of pages of records from an investigation into football star Reggie Bush case should not be sealed, a California appeals court ruled.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association had moved to seal 400 pages of the record in the lawsuit it faces from former University of Southern California assistant coach Todd McNair.

In a 2011 complaint, McNair had claimed that the NCAA defamed him and destroyed his career in an unfair investigation of whether Heisman Trophy winner Bush "received improper benefits from a convicted felon, Lloyd Lake ... who aspired to be a sports agent."

The NCAA moved to strike McNair's lawsuit as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) and argued that its investigations must remain confidential.

Among the documents it sought to shield were witness interviews, hearing transcriptions and emails from the Committee on Infractions.

The Los Angeles Superior Court denied the request, ruling that the NCAA failed to make a sufficient showing of facts to justify sealing the documents.

A three-justice panel of the Los Angeles-based Second Appellate District affirmed on Feb. 6.

"We conclude the NCAA failed to carry its burden to demonstrate that its interest in the confidentiality of its enforcement proceedings overrides the constitutional right of access and the presumption of openness, or how this interest in confidentiality would be prejudiced if the documents at issue were disclosed," Justice Richard Aldrich wrote for the court.

Neither the NCAA's bylaws nor a confidentiality agreement overcome the public's First Amendment right to know about court proceedings, the court found.

Aldrich also slammed the NCAA for failing to show how disclosure of the documents would injure it.

"We are not convinced by the NCAA's contention that public disclosure of its documents will make future investigations more difficult for the NCAA to conduct," Aldrich wrote. "Member institutions, their employees, students and alumni already agree to submit to NCAA enforcement.

The NCAA banned the USC Trojans from bowl games in 2010 and 2011 as a result of its investigation. Bush meanwhile forfeited the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005.

He has played in the NFL since 2006 with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and his current team, the Detroit Lions.

McNair played in the NFL from 1989 to 1996 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers.

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