Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Former Bengals coach out cash

He sunk $500,000 in Carolina Investors

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The bankruptcy of a South Carolina mortgage finance company could put a six-figure monetary hurt on former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche.

Wyche, who lives near Greenville, S.C., is one of about 8,000 South Carolina residents affected by Monday's bankruptcy filing by Carolina Investors. The company had borrowed $275 million from investors through the sale of high-yield promissory notes and so-called "junk" bonds. The money was then loaned by Carolina Investors parent company, HomeGold Financial, to homebuyers with poor credit.

Although Wyche could not be reached Tuesday, the Greenville News quoted him as saying he had sunk about $500,000 into Carolina Investors. He said his in-laws also invested in the company.

"We are, like everybody else, quite disturbed," he told the News. "I don't know the lay of the land. I don't know if this is something that can be recovered or if it's just empty promises."

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office announced a formal investigation Friday.

In a Greenville television report last week, the chief executive of Carolina Investors said investors could get some, but not all of their money back. With $275 million in claims, Carolina Investors is the biggest unsecured creditor in HomeGold's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Monday. HomeGold lists having between $50 million and $100 million in assets.

The News reported that Wyche invested in Carolina Investors after taking money out of the stock market. He spends his days as a substitute teacher at four high schools and volunteering as a quarterback coach at one. He also writes a column for the local weekly newspaper.

"It's a sizable amount of our savings," said Wyche, who coached the Bengals to the 1989 Super Bowl, a game won 20-16 by the San Francisco 49ers. "We are not depending on that for our last meal like a lot of people are. I feel for them a lot more than for us."


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