One day after it was revealed Reggie Bush's family had spent nearly a year living in the home of aspiring sports marketing agent Michael Michaels, the Heisman Trophy winner's attorney released a statement saying the tenancy took place under a lease agreement.
"Mr. and Mrs. LaMar Griffin previously leased a house in the San Diego area from a San Diego businessman, Michael Michaels," said David Cornwell, Bush's attorney. "They are no longer living in the house."
"Reggie Bush was a full-time student at the University of Southern California and never lived in the house," the statement continued. "As is the case with most 20-year-old college students, Reggie was not aware of personal or financial arrangements relating to his parents or their house. Mr. and Mrs. Griffin now realize that, given Reggie's public profile, their personal decisions can reflect on their son."
Lease details were not provided by Cornwell, and he failed to respond to an interview request.
Bush, speaking for the first time since Yahoo! Sports broke the story Sunday that his parents had moved out of Michaels' house, told ESPN in a televised interview: "When this is all said and done, everybody will see at the end of the day that we've done nothing – absolutely nothing wrong."
The Pacific 10 Conference, at the request of USC, will investigate the family's relationship with Michaels and the Spring Valley, Calif., home in an effort to determine whether any NCAA rules had been broken.
NCAA rules stipulate that neither student-athletes, nor family or friends may "accept benefits from an agent, financial advisor, runner or any other person associated with an agency business." Guidelines also state that athletes, family and friends cannot accept benefits from "anyone who represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletics ability … [or] an agent, even if the agent has indicated that he or she has no interest in representing the student-athlete in the marketing of his or her athletics ability or reputation."
Michaels, according to sources, had targeted Bush to be the anchor client of the New Era Sports & Entertainment marketing firm. This took place while Bush's family was living in his 3,002-square-foot home overlooking Sweetwater Reservoir, which state records show Michaels purchased for $757,000.
Michaels also made overtures to San Diego-based agent David Caravantes, offering to facilitate an interview with Bush in which Caravantes could pitch his services.
In Monday's editions of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Caravantes described his contact with Michaels and his New Era associate Lloyd Lake: "They were trying to get me in front of [Bush] during the interview process, which I was never a part of. They didn't try to recruit him for me. They thought it would be a good idea to have everything in San Diego. I think their concept was that they were going to deal with marketing, and they [needed] an agent.
"If things worked out, we were going to try to put something together [to become business partners]. But everything was in waiting to see if they landed [Bush] to do the marketing. Nothing came of it."
Efforts to reach Caravantes, Michaels and Lake, who is in federal prison in Victorville, Calif., on a parole violation, were unsuccessful.
The Union-Tribune also reported that Bush's stepfather, LaMar Griffin, showed a brochure from New Era Sports & Entertainment to a reporter who was visiting the Spring Valley home on Dec. 2, 2005. The Union-Tribune said Griffin described the marketing firm to the reporter as "a new company opening. They sent me a brochure. They're here in San Diego."
Now the Pac-10, and by extension, the NCAA, will seek to determine if any of these relationships constituted a violation of Bush's eligibility.
An NCAA source familiar with compliance issues said Monday that investigators would "certainly" request to see the lease agreement that Cornwell referenced in his statement. Investigators would also request financial documents showing how and when money was paid to Michaels.
But the Pac-10 does not have power of subpoena in its investigation and cannot require personal documents for any personal documents it might wish to examine.
The outcome of the probe could also impact Bush's Heisman Trophy. According to voting standards for college football's premiere award, the trophy recipient must be compliant with NCAA bylaws. A spokesman for the Heisman Trophy Trust told the Associated Press Monday that officials will wait for the conclusion of the Pac-10 investigation before determining if any action is necessary.
- Reggie Bush