Bush says family has done 'absolutely nothing wrong'
LOS ANGELES -- An attorney representing Reggie Bush says that Bush had no knowledge of an agreement between his parents and San Diego businessman Michael Michaels, the man who owned a $750,000 home the Bush family lived in for the past year.
|Could Bush lose his Heisman?|
The director of the Heisman Trophy Trust told ESPN's Joe Schad on Monday that he will reach out to board members to determine the potential ramifications of an investigation involving 2005 winner Reggie Bush.
"We're doing some soul-searching ourselves right now," Rob Whalen said. "To the best of my knowledge no one has ever had a Heisman Trophy revoked."
Whalen said he's already begun to receive e-mails from Texas fans who believe runner-up Vince Young should now receive the trophy.
"Clearly that's premature," Whalen said. "Let's see what happens and how this plays out."
The official Heisman ballot includes this wording: "In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award MUST be a bona fide student of an accredited university. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student."
"At this point, I'm not going to get into the particulars of the transactions between the family and Mr. Michaels," David Cornwell told ESPN's Joe Schad. "It is inappropriate to presume that the Griffins did anything wrong."
The family -- Bush's mother Denise Griffin, stepfather LaMar Griffin and brother Jovan Griffin -- moved out of the house after questions over its ownership arose. Reporters from several news organizations visited the house on Thursday.
"We have nothing to hide," Bush said on ESPN's NFL Draft special Monday. "When all is said and done ... everyone will see we have done absolutely nothing wrong."
Bush added that his "parents leased a house like any other parent" and the Texans "should not be concerned at all. Nothing to be worried about."
Bush declined to say who paid the rent.
Texans owner Bob McNair was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as saying: "If that's all there is, if it's still a minor thing, then I doubt it would have any effect on what we do."
The Pac-10 said Sunday it will investigate the reported connection between Bush's family and Michaels, who sought to market the Southern California star tailback.
At issue is the San Diego-area home's connection with Michaels, who reportedly attempted to steer Bush toward signing with San Diego agent David Caravantes and sought to handle Bush's marketing with a new firm he had founded.
Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, chose to turn pro after his junior season with USC. He is expected to be the No. 1 pick in Saturday's NFL draft.
"Rather than jumping to conclusions, we need to determine the facts before commenting on this report," USC athletic director Mike Garrett said in a statement on Sunday. "We have asked the Pac-10 to look into this."
Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said Monday that a conference investigation could start soon but gave no specific time frame.
Cornwell said Bush's parents will "cooperate fully" with any inquiry from the Pac-10 or NCAA.
Members of Bush's camp are also expected to argue that the NCAA rules legislating "extra benefits" are not applicable in this case, because Michaels was not involved in the marketing of Bush.
Since Bush has left school, any punishment would likely involve Bush vacating school records, Schad reported. A source told Schad that because it was not an "institutional violation" and USC received no competitive advantage, it is not likely that the school would have to vacate victories. This could technically occur, however, if it is ruled Bush should not have been eligible.
USC could forfeit its 2005 Pac-10 football title if Bush is ruled ineligible, Hansen said.
"I'm not a rules expert, but I think one of the available penalties would be forfeiture of games if you compete while ineligible," Hansen said at the Bowl Championship Series meetings in Phoenix. "I want to caution that that's a long way from where we are now. And I think all of us have seen that so often there are allegations made and when you get to the heart of the matter there's nothing there."
It is unlikely that the school would lose scholarships or a bowl appearance, Schad was told by a source.
"They were trying to get me in front of [Bush] during the interview process, which I was never a part of," Caravantes said in an interview published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They didn't try to recruit him for me. They thought it would be a good idea to have everything in San Diego. I think their concept was that they were going to deal with marketing, and they [needed] an agent ... "If things worked out, we were going to try to put something together [to become business partners]. But everything was in waiting to see if they landed [Bush] to do the marketing. Nothing came of it," he said.
State records showed construction was completed on the home in early 2005 and Michaels purchased it for $757,500 in late March, Yahoo.com reported. Neighbors told Yahoo that the Griffins moved into the home shortly after that.
The two-story house sits on a corner on a steep hill in an unincorporated area outside San Diego. The back yard is bare dirt and the pavement of the driveway apron is inscribed with the words "The Griffins '05."
San Diego County records show the 3,002-square-foot home has an assessed value of $339,394, including $99,394 for the land.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes and their families from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives. It can be a violation even if Bush had no knowledge of the transaction.
The Union-Tribune said it is unclear what rent Bush's mother and stepfather paid during their time in the house. If it is less than market value, the NCAA could consider that a violation, the newspaper said.
Bush eventually signed with a different agent and marketing firm.
"This time of year, falsely or unfalsely, this is the stuff that comes up," Mike Ornstein, one of Bush's current representatives, told the Union-Tribune. "It's a bunch of BS."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report