An ex-NCAA executive testified Tuesday that a felon who gave unauthorized benefits to USC running back Reggie Bush initially declined to speak to investigators during the collegiate organization’s probe because he was in prison, then later barred the sharing of any information with the university.

Angie Cretors, who in 2007 was the NCAA’s director of agents, gambling and amateurism activities, was the first witness to take the stand in trial of former USC football Assistant Coach Todd McNair’s lawsuit against the NCAA. He alleges the NCAA defamed him and was negligent during the probe of the Bush case, costing him his job and his career.

Cretors said San Diego-based sport agent Lloyd Lake’s attorneys insisted when their client ultimately consented to answer the NCAA’s questions that the information would be shared only with the organization’s infractions enforcement committee, but not with USC officials.

According to Cretors, USC representatives wanted to be present during the NCAA’s interview with Lake and the organization tried to accommodate the university. But Lake did not concur, she said.

“We could not, we tried,” Cretors said.

Cretors said then-USC Head Coach Pete Carroll was cooperative and answered all of the questions posed to him.

Lake sued Bush and his parents in 2007, seeking almost $300,000 in cash, a vehicle and goods he said he gave them from November 2004 to January 2006 while Bush was at USC. Lake’s associate, Michael Michaels, owned a house in Spring Valley where Bush’s family allegedly lived rent-free during Bush’s Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2005. That lawsuit was settled in 2010.

NCAA attorney Kosta Stojilkovic has acknowledged that errors were made by people within the organization during the Bush investigation, including Shep Cooper, who wrote in a private email that McNair was a “lying, morally corrupt criminal.” He said Cooper was not involved in the decision-making in McNair’s case, but that the comments nonetheless were “completely unacceptable” and even NCAA President Mark Emmert found them inappropriate.

The testimony of Cooper, then the NCAA’s liaison to the infractions committee, was presented Tuesday to the jury hearing McNair’s lawsuit via a deposition he gave in August 2012. He and two others, Rodney Uphoff and Roscoe Howard, were only allowed to observe the infraction committee’s deliberations, but not offer their opinions or influence the panel, according to McNair’s attorney, Bruce Broillet, who alleges there were many examples of the trio acting to the contrary.

Cooper said Uphoff, as the coordinator of the committee that would hear appeals in the Bush case, was entitled to offer his thoughts to the panel about the case.

“I don’t think he was trying to influence anyone,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he similarly was not trying to sway the panel to be tougher on USC by letting them know some of the examples of the extensive media coverage of the Bush case, but was instead just trying to be informative.

McNair’s lawsuit, filed in June 2011, seeks unspecified damages for defamation, breach of contract and negligence.

McNair received a show-cause penalty from the NCAA, meaning he had to receive permission from the NCAA for any recruiting he did for one year.

The committee’s sanctions against USC included a two-year bowl ban, the loss of multiple scholarships and four years of probation.

McNair, now 52, spent six seasons at USC coaching running backs under Carroll, but his contract was not renewed after the NCAA allegations.

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