Reggie Bush placed under investigation

The University of Southern California’s (USC’s) former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush is in the news again, and it’s not because of his successful NFL debut this past week with the New Orleans Saints.

According to a report posted on Yahoo! Sports last Thursday, Bush and his family received more than $100,000 in benefits from marketing agents while Bush was playing at USC, which is a violation of the NCAA’s bylaws.

This sticky situation is a lot like steroids in baseball. Assuming that Bush did break the rules, how do you fix and rectify something that’s in the past and already happened? I believe the guilty parties involved should be punished, but the NCAA system is flawed and you can’t go back and rewrite history.

An extreme stance to take would be to strip USC of everything they’ve accomplished over the past two seasons during which these alleged benefits were occurring.

Of course, that would mean forfeiting USC’s victories, returning Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy, and voiding the school’s 2004 national championship title.

Critics say this is naturally never going to happen because the NCAA would be saying to everyone that the season that just occurred was a fraud if it did so. How would the public react, knowing that the entire season they just witnessed was fake?

Taking away national championships has been done in other sports, most recently to the 2002 Hawaii men’s volleyball team for using ineligible players.

It’s just a hunch, but I’m willing to bet that football at USC gained more revenue for the university than men’s volleyball did at Hawaii. I’m not saying that players like Bush should be allowed to receive illegal benefits, but I am saying that they are generating more revenue for their university than a men’s volleyball player or a regular student.

The argument to back this is that they’re on scholarship, so it’s a fair deal — you go to school free and get to play football. This works fine for some players, but then for some superstars like Bush you run into the problem of them being under-compensated for everything they contribute to the school.

In college football this is magnified because players must stay a minimum of three years at a university before declaring for the NFL. They are forced to stay in college and get an education when getting the education might not be the reason they are there. I doubt Maurice Clarett spent his time writing computer code or integrating complex functions.

Saying that they’ll need their college education when their playing days are over is possibly true, but it doesn’t justify the NCAA profiting off these athletes; you don’t know how much value some of these players get out of their education. If your dream is making it to the NFL, you are going to do whatever is in your power to achieve that dream, which means making that a higher priority than your education.

Returning back to Bush, I disagree with punishing USC and tarnishing everything college athletics is based on. If Bush did accept benefits from agents or marketing representatives, he would have violated the NCAA’s bylaws, and actions should be taken against him and against the agents at fault. The required action is for Bush to be deemed ineligible, but that doesn’t fit the current situation.

Declaring him ineligible would set off a chain of events and not fix anything; instead, it would create more problems.

Bush’s teammates at USC would be stripped of a national championship because of something he did and that they had nothing to do with. Bush, his family, and more importantly the agents, if at fault, should have to pay the price, whatever that may be, but these benefits did not transform him into arguably the best running back in recent history and it didn’t give the national championship to USC.

Let’s not be naive either in thinking that Reggie Bush is the only college athlete to allegedly receive illegal benefits. Punish the parties at fault, but don’t start changing the past.