Bush hit with book
By Jason Cole and Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
December 6, 2007
Nearly two years after Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy, a book detailing improper benefits he allegedly received while playing for the University of Southern California and his relationship with the financiers of a fledgling sports marketing company could further damage his chances of keeping the most prestigious award in college sports.
The book, "Tarnished Heisman" by Don Yaeger and Jim Henry, published by Simon & Schuster, will include transcripts of recorded conversations that contain Bush acknowledging he owed money to the financiers of New Era Sports & Entertainment. Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels of New Era planned to feature Bush as their marquee client to launch their marketing agency. The business failed after Bush sought representation elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the NCAA interviewed three people this week who claim knowledge of the approximately $300,000 in cash and other benefits allegedly given to Bush by Lake and Michaels. The benefits included Bush's family living rent-free in a new home in a San Diego suburb for one year. Bush also allegedly received money for a car, spending money and had hotel stays paid for. Other allegations include furniture being purchased for the Bush family, travel expenses paid and free dinners provided.
Barbara Gunner and Lisa Lake met with the NCAA on Tuesday and the organization met with Lemuel Campbell on Wednesday. Gunner is the mother of Lloyd Lake. Lisa Lake is Lloyd Lake's sister. Campbell is Lisa Lake's ex-husband, who was expected to be an officer in New Era.
Gunner and Lisa Lake spoke to the NCAA about how they helped Lloyd Lake by lending him money to get New Era started. They also discussed their encounters with Bush and his family, including stepfather LaMar Griffin and mother Denise Griffin.
In November, the NCAA interviewed Lloyd Lake, listening to a portion of the recordings he made of conversations between himself, Bush and LaMar Griffin.
Yahoo! Sports, which in April 2006 broke the story of Bush receiving benefits, has also heard a portion of the recorded conversations.
Yaeger is a former writer and editor for Sports Illustrated who has written 14 books. Henry is a sportswriting veteran of more than 20 years with The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune and The Tallahassee Democrat.
Beyond the transcripts of the recorded conversations, the book will include extensive interviews with Lloyd Lake, Gunner, Lisa Lake and others.
Yaeger said he believes the book could prove significant in pushing forward the NCAA investigation and ultimately lead to Bush losing the Heisman. No player has ever been stripped of the award. The Heisman Trust would decide Bush's fate. This year's Heisman will be presented Saturday in New York.
"My belief is that Heisman voters will have another decision to make in the near future," Yaeger said.
Henry said after he listened to the recorded conversations and examined documents, he was convinced Bush and his family received the improper benefits.
"At the end of the day I asked myself did I believe Lloyd Lake and his family. The answer was yes," Henry said.
Lloyd Lake filed suit against Bush in San Diego County Court in October, alleging Bush, his stepfather and mother promised to repay money that was advanced to them.
According to sources and documents obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Bush agreed to join New Era in exchange for the benefits and partial ownership of the company. But he reneged on that agreement and then never repaid what he was advanced, sources said. Bush reached a settlement with Michaels in March 2007, paying Michaels between $200,000 and $300,000.
In the book, Lloyd Lake discusses how he first met Bush when the running back was a star at Helix High in San Diego. They maintained a relationship over the years and allegedly agreed late in 2004 to start the sports marketing company.
Their relationship would coincide with the end of the 2004 season, when USC went undefeated and won the national championship against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Thus, the investigation could jeopardize the Trojans' title.
It could also impact victories from the 2005 season, when Bush helped USC return to the national championship game, which the Trojans lost to Texas.
Updated on Thursday, Dec 6, 2007 10:25 pm, EST