Thursday, January 25, 2007
A report on Yahoo.Com (here) states that a federal investigation of possible extortion of former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush includes tapes made by sports marketers who may have given Bush and his family large financial benefits while he was a "student-athlete" at USC. The allegations of improper payments first emerged after Bush finished his career USC in January 2006, and there were claims that he had agreed to be the first client for a new sports marketing agency. When the deal didn't come to fruition, Bush alleged that he received extortion threats, triggering a federal grand jury investigation in San Diego, where the agency was headquartered. Among the items subpoenaed were tapes that allegedly include Bush stating he would repay the money he received and for a car he drove. The receipt of such benefits by a college athlete means the person loses their eligibility, and likely would trigger NCAA sanctions against USC; Bush is beyond the jurisdiction of the college sports czars, and is a likely choice for NFL Rookie of the Year for his play with the New Orleans Saints this season.
This would not be the first federal case involving questionable payments to "student-athletes" by shady characters. The prosecution of Norby Walters in the 1980s on RICO and mail fraud charges involved secret payments by a sport agents to college players who later reneged on their deals, and threats against them. For a summary of the case, see United States v. Walters, 997 F.3d 1219 (7th Cir. 1993). (ph)