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« Draft Eve | Main | Interesting Twist »
Friday
Apr282006

Michaels Speaks Out

Michael Michaels, the landlord of the property occupied by Reggie Bush's parents, claims they failed to pay rent at any time during their tenancy.

The parents of Southern California running back Reggie Bush did not pay $54,000 in rent during the year they lived in a home owned by a sports marketing agency investor who wanted to represent the football star, the owner of the house told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The landlord, Michael Michaels, said that Bush's mother and stepfather agreed to pay $4,500 in monthly rent when they moved into the Spring Valley house, the paper reported Friday. They didn't pay for the first few months but promised to pay when the Heisman Trophy-winner started earning millions of dollars after turning pro, Michaels said.

He also sent the Griffins an eviction note on April 3, according to the story.

Watkins said he plans to file a $3.2 million fraud lawsuit against Bush's parents and possibly Bush. The sum includes $300,000 in "out-of-pocket" money that Michaels claims the family owes him and another investor, Lloyd Lake, plus punitive damages.

This story is now very much against the Griffins unless they can produce documentation counter to Michaels' allegations, or somehow discredit the eviction note as park of the alleged shakedown reported earlier tonight.

It remains unclear from the story whether there was a prior agreement to rent the house in return for the future services of Bush.  This fact is crucial in any likely NCAA sanctions against USC for playing an ineligible player.  Michaels does allege that the Griffins promised to pay rent several months into the living arrangement, once Bush had turned pro---but this is not necessarily concrete proof of an agreement prior to the Griffins' moving in.

As reported here yesterday, Bush's representative Mike Ornstein claims Michaels is a longtime family friend---a fact that needs further exploration by media, the NCAA and the Pac-10 in order to clarify the intent behind the housing agreement.  Was he renting the home as a way to look after friends?  Or was he doing it after making some kind of agreement with the Griffins to work with Bush later on---a clear NCAA violation?

The cards are stacked against the Griffins (and indirectly USC), based on my reading of this---I'm an NCAA rules novice but simply leveraging payment against future earnings may be an NCAA violation for improper benefits.

It's not exactly like getting a free car but it goes beyond the normal round of benefits enjoyed by most college students.  This home thing looks more like the deal where you go to the electronics store and get a high-price appliance free for several months before the backloaded payments kick in.

With a pending lawsuit this case is only going to get uglier as accusations fly between the involved parties. 

***UPDATE***

Here's a Yahoo! Sports article by Charles Robinson with details from Michaels alleging that Bush was aware of the marketing agreement at some point last year.  It also details Michaels' allegations in further detail.

It's still a little unclear what Bush knew and when he knew it, but it sounds like he mostly stayed out of the fray.

His parents, however, are looking more and more like freeloaders and frauds. 

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Reader Comments (5)

In order to extort someone you have to have a bargaining chip. Embarrassing stories/photos about the Bush family? Intereresting.

Another thing is how do you come up with the nice round $3.2 million figure?

Stay tuned indeed.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeath Tingle
CFR, let me clear this up for you. (1) Michaels gave the Bushes free housing because he thought it get him somewhere with Reggie. (2) They took Michaels for a ride. (3) Michaels is now pissed and firing with both barrels. End of story!
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
That's basically how I'm reading it.

Sounds like its only going to get worse, too.

Now we need to start investigating what specifics Bush and USC were aware of.
April 28, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
I'd say that USC knew nothing? I'd guess if Reggie did know, he will say he didn't and hope that no one can prove otherwise?
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
There's a Yahoo! sports article by the guy that broke the story that I'm about to add to this post alleging that Bush at some point understood the terms of the marketing agreement and pledged to join the group once he went pro.

We'll see if USC knew nothing. Based on what we know right now, they didn't. They're still responsible and likely to be punished because of the goofy NCAA bylaws, but other than a cryptic anonymous post at the ProFootballTalk.com Rumor Mill that players knew and thus coaches should have known but didnt report it to the NCAA (unsubstantiated and anonymous claim)---they're in the clear as far as having an awareness of this.
April 28, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR

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