Choppy, typo-laden transcript from Pro Football Talk's Rumor Mill:
In what could be the next big step toward a finding that USC tailback Reggie Bush was ineligible for all or part of the 2005 football season and that USC knew or should have known about Bush's ineligibility, Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that sworn testimony from two hearings regarding a parole violation indicates that New Era Sports & Entertainment had an agreement of some sort with Bush.
Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake founded New Era in 2005. Earlier this year, Lake faced the revocation of his parole from federal prison. At one of the hearings, Lake's lawyer, Marc Carlos, testified that "Mr. Bush -- or through his associates -- had made some type of agreement with Mr. Lake's group."
Carlos also testified that, after Bush signed with another group, there was a dispute over "representations made by Bush and his family to Mr. Lake's group" and that "they were going to discuss potential litigation -- or a settlement involving Mr. Bush's involvement with that agency."
David Caravantes, an NFLPA-certified agent who reportedly was being lined up by New Era to handle the negotiation of Bush's football contract, testified as well. Caravantes confirmed his arrangement with New Era: "Lloyd [Lake] and I had got together in October  to start a new sports management company with Sycuan. . . . Since October, Lloyd was a viable part of the company, helping recruit players, and in the process of merging this New Era Sports with Sycuan. In the process of this happening, you know, it obviously hurt the company because he had some relationships with certain players who ended up not signing."
Lake gave the following testimony: "I had a sports agency that we had formed, and we had a guy in, Winston Justice, from USC. . . . Reggie Bush came into town. And at that time he was going to go out with us."
The initial significance of this testimony is that it removes any credible doubt that, at some time after Bush's family moved into the house owned Michaels but before the completion of the 2005 football, Michaels was an "agent" within the meaning of the relevant NCAA bylaws. Thus, if it ultimately is shown that Bush's family paid anything less than fair market rent after Michaels became an "agent," then Reggie was necessarily ineligible under the NCAA rules for each subsequent game.
More importantly, the reference to "potential litigation" suggest that New Era had (or at least thought it had) some type of binding commitment with Bush. If such an agreement was reached prior to the completion of the 2005 football season, Bush was ineligible regardless of whether his mother and stepfather were paying fair value for the house owned by Michaels.
Again, the college football angle of this story boils down to two participants: Reggie Bush and USC.
Right now nobody has proven that Bush has broken any amateur rules. In order to do so, it will have to be shown that:
1)Bush had signed with an agent. This story fails to address that. It mentions an agreement between 'Bush, or his associates' to work with New Era Sports & Entertainment. But there is no written documentation of this of yet. Only the testimony of a convicted felon.
The story fails to address why Mr. Lake is in jail, but I'm certainly curious, aren't you?
Unless someone produces a paper with Bush's name on a dotted line agreeing to sign with this (or any agent) prior to Jan. 4, 2006, the agent angle is dead.
2)Did Bush had a hand in the home deal? It will have to be proven that Bush had a hand in negotiations for the home, or was signing checks, negotiating, etc. My read of this story is that his parents, the Griffins, are involved in the home deal, not Bush.
Being a college football player at a school two hours drive away, it's safe to say Bush was not a resident of the home. Also, he has no previous experience with those kinds of matters, whereas his parents are adults and are much more aware of what the process entails.
3)The home deal itself. Did the Griffins make rent payments? How much did they pay? Were their payments at fair market value?
The answers to these questions go a long way towards figuring out the amateurism issues at hand. They are the real smoking gun, but are also what leads us farthest away from USC and Bush. I think this is what is frustrating the pitchfork & torch crowd, because the most likely NCAA violation among these scenarios occurred farthest from their target: USC.
The Rumor Mill piece fails to provide answers to these questions, instead only adding the name of a convicted felon to the mix and distracting from the more narrow and vital NCAA issue.
Again, I hope the Griffins will provide documentation about their home deal in a timely fashion. It will take this story to its next destination instead of the current hysterical, innuendo driven limbo where we currently are.