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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NFLPA's Gene Upshaw Adresses Policing Of Agents As Reggie Bush Controversy Unfolds - Sports Business Daily

As Bush Controversy Continues, Upshaw Addresses Agent Issue - Sports Business Daily

Bush’s Camp Issues Statement
Regarding Yahoo Sports Story

DAVID CORNWELL, an attorney for Saints RB REGGIE BUSH, on Friday issued a statement alleging that a Yahoo Sports reporter falsely identified himself to gain confidential financial information for a report that Bush and his family received more than $100,000 in gifts from agents while he was at USC. Cornwell said that a phone message left at a Northern California hotel seeking credit card information for an employee of Bush’s marketing agent was linked to Yahoo Sports reporter DAN WETZEL. “On Sept. 13, 2006, a person posing as an employee of Mr. Bush’s marketing agency, The SportsLink, makes repeated calls to a Northern California hotel seeking credit card information relating to such employee. In one call, the impersonator left a contact number that connects a caller directly to Yahoo,” the statement said. SportsLink is the company owned by MIKE ORNSTEIN, Bush’s marketing agent. Wetzel’s byline was not on the story that alleged Ornstein and MICHAEL MICHAELS, who owned a separate marketing company, gave more than $100,000 in cash and gifts to Bush and his parents. “Contrary to Yahoo’s report,” Cornwell’s statement said, Bush’s parents “either paid or prepaid, in cash, for airline tickets, travel expenses, lodging and service charges relating to the trip from San Diego to Oakland.” Cornwell also said that, contrary to published reports, Bush’s parents owed no rent on a San Diego area home owned by Michaels as of early April ‘06. A Yahoo spokesperson said in a statement, “We stand by both the accuracy and veracity of the reporting by JASON COLE and CHARLES ROBINSON in the investigation of Reggie Bush and his family. No information from Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel was used in the investigative stories by Cole and Robinson” (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). Michaels’ attorney, BRIAN WATKINS, called Cornwell’s denial “crazy.” Watkins: “They still owe rent and they never paid rent and they were evicted on that basis” (L.A. TIMES, 9/23).

UPSHAW: NFLPA Exec Dir GENE UPSHAW in an e-mail on Friday “spoke out on what he characterized as the ‘severe’ challenge of policing agents, financial advisors and marketing representatives’ intent on wooing college football players.” Upshaw said that the union has been “working on a solution since he was contacted last year” by USC coach PETE CARROLL, “even before allegations were made against Bush.” Upshaw said, “He was the first coach to bring this to my attention and how bad the problem has become. He said he was in charge but had no control. He was reaching out for help.” Upshaw said that his “work on the topic has nothing to do with Bush.” Carroll said Upshaw is “the only guy that can curtail what they’re doing.” Upshaw wants to strengthen union regulations of agents and “restrict agents from having any contact with players who have yet to declare themselves eligible for the draft.” He “wants to close loopholes that allow marketing representatives to go unregulated.” In L.A., Farmer & Wharton noted the proposal could be put to a vote of player reps at the NFLPA’s annual meeting in March, but Upshaw “can ask the union’s executive committee to consider the matter before that meeting” (L.A. TIMES, 9/23).


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