NFLPA investigating agent in Bush house deal
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Caravantes said he had nothing to do with the USC running back, while a marketing firm claims the Heisman winner's family owes it money.
NEW YORK -- The agent under investigation by the NFL Players Association for his role in the housing arrangement of Reggie Bush's family says he has had nothing to do with the Southern California star.
David Caravantes told The Associated Press on Friday that he is unaware of the investigation, adding: "I have had no involvement with Reggie Bush. The truth will come out."
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, confirmed Friday that the probe of Caravantes has begun.
"I can't comment on specifics of the investigation while it is going on, according to our organization's regulations," Upshaw said. "Until the process is completed, we can't comment, other than the investigation is ongoing.
"Things like this are about the integrity of the game and our sport, and we have to make sure it is dealt with sufficiently. The number of agents has grown every year and it's become increasingly difficult to keep a net over some of these [agents]."
The NFL, meanwhile, has alerted some teams about a potential extortion of Bush's family after the Southern Cal running back didn't sign with marketing company New Era Sports & Entertainment LLC tied to Caravantes.
"I wasn't even aware of the money asked of the Bush family until yesterday," Caravantes said. "They [New Era] recruited me."
The NFL's security department contacted several teams about the situation.
A San Diego attorney for the two principals in New Era Sports said Bush's family defrauded his clients out of $300,000 over 1 1/2 years using "the carrot" of Bush's future football career as an enticement.
The attorney, Brian Watkins, said Bush's parents didn't pay $54,000 in rent during the year they lived in a house owned by a sports marketing agency investor who wanted to represent the football star.
Bush's mother and stepfather had agreed to pay landlord Michael Michaels $4,500 in monthly rent when they moved into the Spring Valley house Michaels bought for $757,000 in March 2005.
"It was to be paid back with the profits from the business," Watkins said.
Michaels also paid $28,000 to settle debts held by Bush's parents, the attorney said. LaMar Griffin, Bush's stepfather, said he needed to clear up the debt "to help him 'focus' on the enterprise," Watkins said. New Era Sports also paid for Bush's parents to travel and stay at their son's away games.
Michaels, a member of the Sycuan Tribe and its tribal development corporation, was introduced to Bush through his partner in New Era, a documented gang member named Lloyd Lake, whom Watkins described as a longtime friend of the Heisman Trophy winner.
LaMar Griffin "targeted" Michaels as a potential investor in Michaels' box suite after a Chargers football game in October 2004. The next month, Griffin recruited Bush to convince Lake and Michaels that their company was viable.
According to Watkins, Griffin tried to exploit his relationship with Michaels by approaching the tribe -- while wearing Bush's USC jersey -- and seeking investment funds. Sycuan declined.
Bush, who signed with agent Joel Segal, said he believes the matter will be cleared up in a few weeks.
"I've got to get back to football," Bush said. "My life is parallel to a horse race. They have blinders on to keep them from being distracted in the race and keep them focused on winning the race. That's kind of like my life. Focus on the goal, not the things coming at me from the side."
There sure are a lot of side issues confronting Bush and his family these days.
Watkins sent the player's parents an eviction notice on April 3 and LaMar and Denise Griffin, moved out of the house last week. Bush has said his parents left because they found another place to live.
Watkins said he plans to file a fraud lawsuit against Bush's parents and possibly Bush. The sum includes $300,000 in money that Michaels claims he and Lake put into the business, plus punitive damages.
David Cornwell, the Bush family attorney, did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press late Thursday.
The NCAA is investigating whether the living arrangement violated rules prohibiting student-athletes and their families from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives.
Bush said he had spoken personally to USC coach Pete Carroll. Was Carroll comfortable with Bush's explanation?
"I'd hope he is," Bush said. "I think he trusts me in my decisions and the type of person I am, and the decisions I make on and off the football field. I think it was important he heard it from my mouth."