SAN DIEGO – Michael Michaels, one of the financiers of failed marketing agency New Era Sports & Entertainment, reached a settlement with Reggie Bush's family Thursday over unpaid rent and other benefits allegedly provided in an attempt to woo the former University of Southern California running back as a client.
The settlement, first reported on the San Diego Union Tribune Web site, was for between $200,000 and $300,000, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Bush's attorney, David Cornwell, could not be reached for comment. Michaels' attorney, Jordan Cohen, declined to comment other than to say that Michaels would not be pursuing a lawsuit against Bush.
The NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference are conducting on-going investigations into allegations by Michaels and former New Era partner Lloyd Lake that Bush and his family received cash and benefits from the agency while Bush, now with the New Orleans Saints, was playing at USC.
If the NCAA determines Bush and his family received the extra financial benefits, USC could be forced to forfeit games in which Bush played and his Heisman Trophy could be in jeopardy.
Michaels and Lake have been key figures in the NCAA's investigation into Bush, whose family lived rent-free for almost a year in a $757,237, 3,002 square-foot Spring Valley, Calif., house Michaels said he purchased for the family in April of 2005. Michaels' former attorney, Brian Watkins, said the house and other benefits were given to Bush as part of an agreement the USC star and his family had to work with New Era when Bush went to the NFL. Bush ultimately signed with contract agent Joel Segal and marketing rep Mike Ornstein. Ornstein is also alleged to have given Bush and his family benefits while he was at USC.
According to two sources, Michaels' settlement includes a confidentiality clause which will keep Michaels from talking with the NCAA.
Watkins, who still represents Lake. said Michaels' settlement did not impact Lake's plans to go forward with his lawsuit against the Bush family. Watkins expects the suit to be filed in the next few weeks.
"I'm in the middle of a trial that should end by next Tuesday or Wednesday,” Watkins said. “I would think two weeks after that."
Watkins said he had not discussed a possible settlement with Cornwell "anytime recently." He left open the possibility of a settlement.
"We're reasonable people" Watkins said. "We'll listen to whatever someone has to say."
Watkins said he could call Michaels as a witness.
"Michael has said he'd be willing to be a witness," Watkins said.
Any confidentiality agreement would not prevent his cooperation, Watkins said.
"No confidentiality agreement trumps a subpoena."
Lake and Michaels had hired Watkins and initially planned on filing a joint lawsuit against Bush in May of 2006. But Michaels later decided to go with separate legal representation and the suit was divided.
The threat of lawsuits has slowed the NCAA's probe and some of the parties allegedly involved, including Bush, have failed to cooperate thoroughly.
Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities issued a statement regarding the investigation Friday.
“The NCAA is aware that Mr. Michaels has agreed to a settlement with the Bush family. We continue our efforts to obtain cooperation from those involved with the case, including Reggie Bush and his family. Hopefully, the settlement agreement will encourage individuals who previously refused to cooperate due to concerns about potential litigation to now come forward with information that may assist with our on-going investigation.”
An NCAA spokesman said the organization has made two requests to interview Bush via his attorney and followed up with a written request.
That would conflict with what Bush, who visited USC football practice this week, told the Los Angeles Times.
"They (the NCAA) haven't tried to contact me,” Bush said. "If they did I wouldn't answer the phone."