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Caravantes described as New Era Sports employee

5/2/2006 - USC Trojans

SAN DIEGO -- An attorney and a promotional brochure for a
fledgling sports marketing firm that tried to sign football star
Reggie Bush described NFL agent David Caravantes as an employee,
according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Caravantes has tried to downplay his connection to New Era
Sports & Entertainment, which is at the center of a controversial
arrangement with Bush's family.

San Diego attorney Brian E. Watkins described Caravantes as a
New Era Sports employee in both an e-mail and a letter sent in
early March to Atlanta lawyer David Cornwell, who represents the
Bush family.

In a telephone interview Monday night, Caravantes' attorney,
Thomas DiPaolo, said his client was approached by New Era's
founders with the idea that he would play an instrumental role in
the company if it were to land Bush as a client. Bush didn't sign
with New Era or with Caravantes.

"He was not an owner, not an employee, not an officer of that
company," DiPaolo said.

Watkins told the AP on Monday that he was merely acting as an
"intermediary" in order to shield Caravantes from Cornwell's
attempts to contact him.

In an e-mail to Cornwell on March 1, Watkins wrote: "Our Office
represents the New Era Sports Management Co. and all its employees
including but not limited to Mr. Dave Caravantes." Watkins made
the same representation in a letter to Cornwell the following day,
in which he listed Caravantes among a group of New Era Sports
Management Co.'s employees and investors.

Cornwell declined to comment.

Caravantes is under investigation by the NFL Players Association
for his role in New Era Sports' dealings with the Bush family.

The agent said he called Watkins after receiving a letter from
the NFLPA late last week, "to ask him if he knew anything about
letters sent to the Bush family."

Asked if he'd spoken with Watkins earlier in the year,
Caravantes said: "I don't recall."

Caravantes said he was worried about being decertified, "But I
think you'll see I've done nothing wrong."

Watkins said he is preparing to sue Bush's parents for fraud and
will seek $3.2 million. He said the plaintiffs will be Michael
Michaels, who owned the suburban San Diego house the Bush family
lived in for nearly a year, and Michaels' partner, Lloyd Lake, a
documented gang member serving time in prison for a probation
violation.

"That demonstrates, obviously, that David was not involved in
the demands because if he was, he'd be a plaintiff," DiPaolo said.

The Pac-10 has said it will investigate whether any NCAA rules
were violated when Bush's family lived in Michaels' $757,000 Spring
Valley house while Bush was still playing for Southern California
last season. The NCAA prohibits student-athletes and their families
from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives.

In a recruiting packet put together by or for New Era Sports,
Caravantes is listed as CEO and is described in glowing terms as
the group's "nucleus" and its creator.

Caravantes "is widely regarded as one of the hardest-working
agents in the country," the brochure reads. "Over the years, he
has distinguished himself as one of the top negotiators in the
industry by negotiating numerous record-breaking NFL contracts."

Watkins said the brochure might have been written by Lake.

DiPaolo said his understanding was that the brochure was
"solely to make a presentation for Sycuan."

The Sycuan Tribe said it was approached last fall by Michaels, a
tribal member, about becoming a partner in New Era Sports. The
tribe declined.

During Lake's sentencing hearing on Feb. 6 for a probation
violation, Caravantes told the court that he and Lake "and some
members of Sycuan and others, have put together a company called
New Era Sports and Entertainment."

At the same hearing, Lake's attorney, Marc X. Carlos, mentioned
the brochure and Bush. "And I guess that matter is in litigation
right now due to, I guess, representations made by Bush and his
family to Mr. Lake's group," Carlos said.

Lake told the court that he felt bad "because I got Dave to
leave a big company he was with, called BC Sports. And they
represent Randy Moss, some big names. And I kind of feel like I let
them down for leaving that company to form this company."

Caravantes formerly worked for Bus Cook, the founder of B.C.
Sports, Inc., who has negotiated big contracts for Brett Favre and
Steve McNair, and helped negotiate an extension for Moss.

Caravantes said he used to work with Cook, but couldn't recall
the years.

Cook hasn't responded to phone and e-mail messages seeking
comment on Caravantes' employment history with B.C. Sports.

Including Caravantes' resume in the New Era Sports brochure
might have been an attempt at lending prestige to the business,
Watkins said.

Referring to Michaels and Lake, Watkins said New Era "basically
was founded by a bunch of nobodies in the business."

NFLPA records show that Caravantes represents seven players,
none of them considered stars.

"To me, it looks like somebody's out to get Reggie's money, a
classic case of people trying to create some kind of opportunity
based on another guy's good fortune," Southern California coach
Pete Carroll said Monday. "I don't know all the facts. I don't
know that there is something wrong here."

Bush won the Heisman Trophy last year and was expected to be the
first pick in Saturday's NFL draft. But he was bypassed by the
Houston Texans and went to New Orleans with the second pick.