No deposition from Bush

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush failed to take a scheduled deposition Monday, after his attorneys filed a motion with the court asking that testimony of both the former USC star and his parents be concealed from the NCAA and media.

Bush was set to testify in San Diego in a civil suit brought against him by former New Era Sports financier Lloyd Lake, who is seeking to recoup nearly $300,000 allegedly given to Bush and his family by the failed sports agency. But the contents of Bush’s deposition have become a major sticking point, as attorneys for Lake have said they would provide transcripts of the depositions to the NCAA, which is conducting an investigation into whether Bush took cash while playing for the Trojans. The motion filed Monday apparently seeks to block Lake’s attorneys from sharing the depositions, naming both the NCAA and the media in the motion.

“It’s so that we can’t share the transcripts with the NCAA, which is a huge admission of guilt,” said Lake’s attorney, Brian Watkins. “Reggie Bush has repeatedly said that he has nothing to hide, and now that he has to testify under oath, he’s saying he doesn’t want what he says shared with the NCAA. Now all of the sudden it’s ‘Hey I’m going to have to admit to some things and I don’t want them out there.’

“Well, Lloyd Lake’s deposition is going to be made public. We’re not asking that his deposition not be shared. He has nothing to hide. You only want things hidden and sealed from public or investigative view when you have something to hide.”

Lake also had a deposition scheduled earlier this month. However, Lake and Watkins walked out of the proceedings after discovering that Bush’s attorneys had brought armed plain-clothes security to sit in on the proceedings. Bush’s attorney’s had not petitioned the court to bring armed security to the deposition, leading Lake’s attorney’s to pull their client from what they called “an atmosphere of intimidation”. Lake’s deposition has been rescheduled for March 10.

Watkins said he believes the request to withhold Bush’s testimony from the NCAA will fail.

“You do protective order like that for personal information like bank account numbers, tax records, juvenile records and things like that,” Watkins said. “But you don’t get it to conceal fraud and wrongdoing and things like that. You can’t just say ‘Oh, I’m going to have to admit to something, so you can’t let anyone see it.’ That’s not what a protective order like that is for.

“After bringing a gun to a deposition, nothing surprises me from these guys. But these are clearly acts of desperate men at this point.”

The depositions of Bush, his parents and Lake are expected to be key pieces of evidence in an ongoing NCAA investigation into whether Bush and his family received improper benefits while he was playing at USC. Lake contends that he and business partner Michael Michaels gave Bush and his family $291,000 in benefits as part of a plan to hatch a sports agency around the star. If Bush is found to have accepted the benefits, his Heisman Trophy could be in jeopardy. Should the NCAA declare him retroactively ineligible during the 2005 season, the Heisman Trust would be forced to determine whether to strip the award. The NCAA’s investigation could also impact USC’s 2004 and 2005 seasons, including the Trojans’ 2004 national championship.