SBD/Issue 36/Sports Industrialists

Former New Era Investor Lake Files Lawsuit Against Bush

Former New Era Investor Files
Lawsuit Against Bush, Family
Former New Era Sports & Entertainment investor Lloyd Lake filed a civil lawsuit yesterday in San Diego County (CA) against Saints RB Reggie Bush and his family, alleging they "accepted more than $291,600 over the course of roughly a year” while Bush was at USC, according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. Lake’s attorney, Brian Watkins, said Lake will talk to NCAA investigators about the issue Friday. Bush’s attorney, David Cornwell, could not be reached for comment, but Bush “has repeatedly said that neither he nor his parents did anything wrong.” The controversy began in spring ’06 when Lake and fellow New Era investor Michael Michaels “alleged they had sought to create a sports marketing agency … with Bush as their star client.” But New Era “began to fall apart” when Bush signed with marketing agent Mike Ornstein. In January, a source said that Lake “had tape-recorded conversations with Bush and his stepfather talking about cash and gifts.” If investigators find that Bush “received improper benefits while in college, USC could be forced to forfeit games,” and Bush “could be asked to return the Heisman Trophy” (L.A. TIMES, 10/31). When asked if Lake had tried to reach a “similar settlement” to the one Michaels received in April, Watkins said, “Yes, but we were unable to do so.” He added that a settlement is “never a dead issue” (USA TODAY, 10/31). The suit “does not break down specific dollar amounts paid to Bush and his family.” An investigation last year found that the family lived rent-free in a new $757,000 house owned by Michaels before being evicted (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/30).

REPERCUSSIONS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote, “Due to the NCAA’s lack of subpoena power, historically its biggest cases have come from civil or criminal lawsuits where its investigators can use evidence gathered from depositions and other parts of the judicial process. It was that way in the Fab Five case at Michigan.” The lawsuit for USC is a "terrible development," one that can "imperil both the past and future and send [coach Pete] Carroll scurrying back to the NFL” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/30).

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