Report: Audio tape may confirm Bush received gifts while at USC


Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

SAN DIEGO — The existence of taped conversations between Reggie Bush or members of his family and an investor in a failed sports marketing agency could confirm the New Orleans Saints' running back received cash and gifts while playing for Southern California, Yahoo.com reported.

A federal investigation into extortion claims by Bush and his family revealed the existence of the taped conversations, according to the Yahoo.com report.

The U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego has issued grand jury subpoenas to multiple witnesses in the probe, Yahoo.com reported. According to a copy of a subpoena obtained by Yahoo, at least one of the witnesses was asked to hand over "any recordings in your possession of conversations between Lloyd Lake and Reggie Bush, Denise Griffin, or LaMar Griffin."

Lloyd Lake, who founded a sports marketing agency in hopes of landing Bush as its first client, is the subject of a grand jury probe into the extortion claims. Denise Griffin is Bush's mother, and LaMar Griffin is Bush's stepfather.

Yahoo.com, citing unidentified sources, reported LaMar Griffin spoke with federal investigators in the spring of 2006 and acknowledged the existence of the tapes.

When asked in the past about the allegations of receiving inappropriate extra benefits, Bush has insisted that he and his family did nothing wrong.

Multiple sources told Yahoo.com that Lake made the tapes in late 2005 to protect his financial investment if Bush backed out of a deal to sign with New Era Sports & Entertainment, founded by Lake and San Diego businessman Michael Michaels. In January 2006, Bush signed with agent Joel Segal and marketing agent Mike Ornstein.

Two weeks ago, Lake's mother, Barbara Gunner, testified before a grand jury, according to the Yahoo.com report, that she had heard portions of tapes made by her son, in which LaMar Griffin states Bush intended to repay New Era Sports "their money," as well as for a car purchased for him.

"I respectfully decline to comment on the media frenzy regarding Reggie Bush, his family and his college career," David Cornwell, Bush's attorney, told Yahoo.

Lake told Yahoo in August 2006 that he contributed a portion of the cash and gifts allegedly given to Bush and his family as part of an agreement to represent the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner when he signed an NFL contract. In September, Yahoo.com reported Ornstein also supplied Bush and his family with gifts while he was still at USC.

According to Yahoo.com, nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts was allegedly given to Bush and his family.

The Pac-10 Conference and the NCAA are investigating whether Bush or his family broke NCAA rules and compromised his eligibility during the 2004 and '05 seasons by taking extra benefits.

If Bush is found to have violated NCAA rules, USC, which won a national title in '04 and played for the '05 championship, could be sanctioned.

Also, the Heisman Trophy Trust requires players be in good standing with the NCAA to be eligible for the award given to college football's top player. If Bush is ruled ineligible by the NCAA, he could be in danger of having his Heisman taken away.

MARSHALL HIRES DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Marshall hired Steve Dunlap as its defensive coordinator Thursday. Dunlap replaces Jim Collins, who resigned in November. Dunlap spent the past two seasons as North Carolina State's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Dunlap spent 17 seasons at West Virginia, serving as defensive coordinator from 1991 to 2000 under Don Nehlen. Dunlap also was an assistant coach at Syracuse from 2001 to 2004.

"We are excited to have someone of Steve's caliber and experience to lead our defense," said Marshall coach Mark Snyder.

N.C. STATE ADDS ASSISTANTS

North Carolina State hired former Philadelphia Eagles assistant Mike Reed as its defensive backs coach. Reed served as the Eagles' defensive assistant-quality control coach the past four seasons. Andy McCollum, the former head coach at Middle Tennessee who spent last season as a scout for the Tennessee Titans, was also hired to coach the Wolfpack linebackers.

ARKANSAS FANS COMPLAIN ABOUT NUTT

About 50 people showed up Wednesday at a protest intended to demonstrate their displeasure with Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt and athletic director Frank Broyles. Despite a 10-4 season, Nutt has had to defend his program after offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn left to join the staff at Tulsa and quarterback Mitch Mustain asked for and received his release to transfer. Randy Staton, 24, of Fayetteville said he organized the protest across from Razorback Stadium.

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