Agent Says He Paid USC, UCLA Football Players

Football agent drags both local teams into the muck.

By Kurt Helin
|  Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010  |  Updated 4:28 PM PDT
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Just what USC needed, another scandal about players getting paid off by agents.

Don't laugh UCLA fans -- this time it's worse for you. Although nobody is likely to get sanctions as a result.

Los Angeles-based agent Josh Luchs details how he got into the business, how the agent recruiting game works -- and just how much money is out there -- in a controversial cover story Tuesday for Sports Illustrated, titled Confessions of an Agent. And he names names.

Agents usually get their start connected with one school or some other defined space of athletes -- for Luchs that was UCLA. It started with Sean LaChapelle, who played for the Bruins in the early 1990s before spending three seasons in the NFL. However, LaChapelle was one of the players Luchs never paid.

Plenty of players from the 1990s did allegedly get paid, including Bruin quarterback Ryan Fien, Bruce Walker and Vaughn Parker (the latter two did not sign with him), SI reported.

Fien told the magazine he did not receive money from Luchs, Walker confirmed receiving money or extra benefits and Parker said "he knew Luchs but had no comment as to whether he took money from Luchs," according to the SI report.

Luchs took Jonathon Ogden to a Janet Jackson concert ("Instead of going to the concert with my girlfriend, I went with a 6'9" guy who weighed more than 300 pounds and who screamed 'Janet!' the whole night like a teenage girl") but he signed somewhere else also.

Ogden confirmed "receiving money or extra benefits from Luchs," according to the magazine.

Luchs lists a number of local players who said they were paid, including former USC receiver R. Jay Soward, who not only admitted to it but also said he would do it again. Then there is Chris Mims, the late San Diego Charger lineman out of Dorsey High, who was paid $500 a month, says Luchs.

Mims died in 2008 and therefore was unable to respond to the allegations.

Not everyone took Luchs' money. Keyshawn Johnson and J.J. Stokes turned him down, Luchs said.

One of the more interesting stories was that of former Charger draft pick Ryan Leaf, who Luchs recruited and gave money to for years. After Luchs did not pick up a Vegas hotel bill for two other Washington State quarterbacks partying with Leaf the summer before his senior year, the wheels to the relationship came off. But in an interesting twist, after Leaf got his big contract -- with agent Leigh Steinberg -- Leif paid Luchs back, about $10,000.

Leaf did not comment on the allegations, but did tell SI that, "I remember Josh. As I recall, he was an old hometown friend of one or two of my teammates and we all hung out a bit. I don't remember him aspiring to be an agent. We were all about the same age and we were interested in having a good time more than anything else."

Luchs said this still goes on, although now most agents use some kind of middle man to keep themselves at arms length from the NCAA and the law (many states, including California, have laws that make these kind of payments illegal now). Luchs also details how he went "straight" to a more legitimate agency and type of recruiting.

Neither USC nor UCLA is likely to face sanctions over this. Sports Illustrated notes that there is a four-year statute of limitations, an investigation has to start inside that window. In this case, all the violations were before 2005.

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