Jurors deliberating in the trial of former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair’s lawsuit against the NCAA were sent home early Tuesday after telling the judge they may be deadlocked.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller told the panel that a fresh start Wednesday may help them break the current impasse. The jury foreman told the judge they are currently divided at 8-4, one vote away from the minimum 9-3 split they need to reach a verdict.

McNair spent six seasons at USC coaching Trojan running backs under former head coach Pete Carroll, but his contract was not renewed after the NCAA allegations. According to the lawsuit, the NCAA report stated that McNair knew about Bush’s relationship with two sports agents, San Diego sports marketers Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels, who were providing Bush with benefits.

Asked by Shaller if he could do anything to help them reach a verdict, the foreman said the panel was curious why they were told during opening statements that there were three claims they would have to resolve, but when they were sent into deliberations, they were told to only consider McNair’s defamation claim.

Prior to the start of deliberations, McNair’s attorneys voluntarily dropped their client’s negligence and breach-of-contract claims. The lawyers will meet Wednesday before the jury arrives to decide how to answer the question without impacting either side unfairly.

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

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

McNair said he was unaware of Bush’s relationship between Lake and Michaels and that the NCAA committed misconduct in its investigation.

The NCAA’s court papers say McNair’s statements were contradicted by Lake.

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