It’s not in time for Christmas, but a new book due out next month will still seem like a lump of coal in Reggie Bush’s stocking this holiday.
Roughly one month after Lloyd Lake, a partner along with San Diego businessman Michael Michaels in the failed sports marketing agency New Era Sports & Entertainment, played portions of recorded conversations that he had with former USC running back Reggie Bush for the NCAA, Jason Cole and Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports report that a book detailing improper benefits that he allegedly received while playing for the Trojans, and his relationship with Lake and Michaels, will be released in mid-January. “Tarnished Heisman,” by Don Yaeger and Jim Henry and published by Simon & Schuster, will include transcripts of recorded conversations that contain Bush acknowledging he owed money to both Lake and Michaels, who had initially planned to use Bush as their principal client in order to launch New Era Sports. Yaeger said that after he listened to the recorded conversations and examined documents, he was convinced Bush and his family received the improper benefits. “At the end of the day I asked myself did I believe Lloyd Lake and his family. The answer was yes.”
The book validates what most already suspected, and what Lake allegedly divulged to the NCAA last month, when Lake met with officials for close to six hours and submitted pieces of recorded conversations to the NCAA—part of two hours worth of tape with Bush and LaMar Griffin, Bush’s stepfather, starting in December 2005. Four sources said afterwards that the recordings show that there was a financial relationship between the parties, one of which Lake’s attorney, Brian Watkins, states dates back to late 2004, the season when USC went undefeated and won the national championship against Oklahoma. Interestingly, however, because Lake is also in the midst of a civil suit filed in San Diego County Court in October against Bush and his family, seeking to recoup nearly $300,000 in benefits that Lake claims he helped provide, USC general counsel Todd Dickey has not been allowed thus far to sit in on the NCAA’s talks with Lake, despite asking to take part (USC had participated in previous interviews regarding this case). It is speculated that one of the reasons USC has not been allowed to take part in the Lake talks of late is that any information Lake divulges to USC at this point could be relayed to Bush and/or his attorneys.
“USC was not permitted to participate in the Lloyd Lake interview,” Dickey said to Yahoo! last month via email. “We have repeatedly requested that USC be allowed to participate in every interview and every aspect of this investigation.” The allegations against Bush could bring NCAA sanctions against the school, and penalties could include forfeiture of victories in 2004 and 2005, including the 2004 national championship (the decision regarding which would be made by the Bowl Championship Series committee, not the NCAA). But the NCAA could rule Bush retroactively ineligible, leaving the Heisman Trust to determine Bush’s eligibility for the award.
And this past week the NCAA interviewed three people who claimed to have knowledge of the approximately $300,000 in cash and other benefits allegedly given to Bush by Lake and Michaels. Barbara Gunner (Lake’s mother), Lisa Lake (Lake’s sister) and Lemuel Campbell (Lisa’s ex-husband who was expected to be an officer of New Era) all met and spoke with the NCAA about how they helped Lloyd Lake by lending him money to get New Era started. They also discussed their encounters with Bush and his family, including stepfather LaMar and mother Denise Griffin.
–Jason G. Wulterkens