(Why? Read on…)
NCAA penalties included:
Disassociation of football player Reggie Bush, basketball player O.J. Mayo and “booster” Rodney Guillory.
In its report, the NCAA noted Reggie Bush improperly receiving a vehicle, rent-free home, airline tickets, hotel rooms, cash, limousine service, furniture and appliances.
Interesting that the men who actually gave Bush all that stuff, Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels, are not ordered to disassociate themselves from USC - but Bush is.
Lake and Michaels are the ones who provided the smoking gun evidence to the NCAA that proved Bush’s brazen rule-breaking.
So why did Lake and Michaels throw USC under the bus? (In actuality, they didn’t deliberately.) Because Bush took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and benefits from Lake and Michaels under the pretense of signing with a marketing company they set up expressly to service Bush.
And then Bush completely blew them off.
When Lake and Michaels tried to recoup their large investment in Bush they got this (from Yahoo Sports, February, 2006):
Bush and his mother convene settlement talks with (Michael) Michaels and his attorney, Brian Watkins, at a Santa Monica, Calif., office belonging to (Mike) Ornstein, Bush’s marketing agent. Bush’s attorney, David Cornwell, is also present, and security guards look for recording devices on Michaels and Watkins by patting them down.
Sources say Michaels attempts to talk to Bush directly, at which point Cornwell tells Bush and his mother to leave the room. Cornwell, according to sources, offers $100,000 to settle the dispute.
Michaels and Watkins refuse, informing Cornwell that they intend to file a lawsuit to recoup monies given to Bush’s family and potential earnings lost when the USC star failed to sign with (Michaels company) New Era Sports.
Bush’s unwillingness to reportedly come close to repaying Michaels and Lake for their $300,000 investment is what led to Michaels and Lake to first leak the story to Yahoo and then later inform USC of what Bush was doing.
USC in turn asked the Pac-10 to investigate the situation. That then sparked a full-blown NCAA investigation.
Still, Bush could’ve saved USC from the shockingly harsh NCAA sanctions slapped on the school’s football program today had he not contacted the U.S. District Attorney’s office in San Diego to accuse Lake of extortion.
That lengthy Federal investigation into Bush’s extortion claims is what brought down the USC program. From Yahoo Sports, January, 2007:
A federal investigation into extortion claims by New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush and his family has revealed the existence of taped conversations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for the University of Southern California.
Once the Feds got involved, Michaels and Lake were only too happy to provide them smoking gun evidence of Bush taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper benefits from them. That evidence is why USC was so harshly punished today.
And the Feds extortion investigation started by Bush? Lake was never charged with any wrongdoing.
Had Bush paid Michaels and Lake back for their initial investment, plus a reasonable sweetener for future earnings lost, the hard evidence against Bush would’ve never come to light. And USC wouldn’t be sitting where it is today.
Once Bush’s extortion claims were debunked - with the football player incriminating himself with the NCAA in the process - Michaels and Lake filed civil lawsuits against Bush to try to, again, recoup their money.
Shamelessly, Bush then used those lawsuits as a legal mechanism to avoid cooperating with the NCAA’s investigation into his improper activities. It isn’t unreasonable to think that Bush’s years of stonewalling the NCAA may have led to even harsher penalties for his Alma Mater.
Today Bush released this statement:
I have a great love for the University of Southern California and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players. I am disappointed by today’s decision and disagree with the NCAA’s findings.
If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on making a positive impact for the University and for the community where I live.”
Speechless? Me too.