DEBOER LEAVING GAMECOCKS SIDELINES AMID LAWSUIT
Courtesy The State
Rob DeBoer has agreed to step down as South Carolina’s sideline reporter while embroiled in a federal lawsuit that alleges the former Gamecocks’ two-sport star marketed an online music retailer that a judge called a “classic pyramid scheme.”
DeBoer, who lettered in football and baseball at USC from 1990-94, last week agreed to turn over his financial records and freeze his bank accounts in an injunction filed in Los Angeles. DeBoer was sued by the Federal Trade Commission in June for allegedly making misleading statements about the income investors made with BurnLounge, which allowed music aficionados to open digital stores and sell music.
Learfield Sports president Greg Brown, whose company shares USC’s media rights with ISP Sports, said the firms — known as Gamecock Sports Properties — requested DeBoer relinquish his sideline duties pending the FTC suit.
Brown said officials do not plan to take action against USC radio play-by-play announcer Todd Ellis, the former Gamecocks’ quarterback who was involved in BurnLounge, but is not named in the suit.
“I think that Todd Ellis has a different place in that investigation than Rob DeBoer,” Brown said Monday.
Reached via e-mail, DeBoer declined to comment. Attempts to reach Ellis were unsuccessful.
“Rob has done a good job on the work he’s done for us. If things like this happen, it’s never any fun to have those conversations,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t want to characterize how he felt or what he felt. ... But I think he understood that the matter had to be cleared up before we could continue.”
Brown would not speculate on a possible replacement for DeBoer, who was an independent contractor with Gamecock Sports Properties.
USC athletics director Eric Hyman said he consulted with the rights-holders about DeBoer’s resignation.
“It’s a personnel issue and I really don’t go into personnel issues,” Hyman said.
Gamecock Sports Properties general manager Liz McMillan directed all questions to Brown.
Columbia became a BurnLounge hot spot after DeBoer and other sports and music personalities promoted the brand. Other BurnLounge members included former Clemson football coach Danny Ford, ex-USC running back and 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, Gamecocks receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. and Hootie & the Blowfish.
DeBoer quit his job with Gamecock Sports Properties to become a full-time retailer for BurnLounge.
The Irmo resident was one of BurnLounge’s top sellers and appeared on the company’s promotional videos. He claimed to have a hand in selling the customizable Web pages to more than 30,000 people and said he had made almost $300,000 by last summer.
DeBoer’s BurnLounge page is no longer active.
BurnLounge investors could make $50 by selling $430 memberships or a nickel for selling a song. Investors earned more money when members they recruited sold songs or memberships.
In the wake of the FTC lawsuit, BurnLounge ended the sale of its membership packages and named a new CEO. The company also agreed to turn over financial records to the government and not move its assets.
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