Reggie Bush was a two time All-American running back, National Champion and one of the most exciting college football players to take the field during his three years at USC.
In 2005, he ran for an astonishing 1,740 yards with sixteen touchdowns, averaging around nine yards per carry. Bush went on to win the Heisman Trophy Award for player of the year in 2005, putting, at the time, a permanent mark on college football. He declared himself for the NFL draft in 2006 and got picked with the second overall selection to the New Orleans Saints.
Days before the NFL draft, reports came out questioning whether Bush was illegally accepting gifts and benefits from agents.
Bush originally denied the claims, until 2007 when sport agents Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels sued Bush for not repaying the benefits and money given to him and his family during his college career. Bush, his step-father, LaMar Griffin, and Lake made a verbal agreement to work together once Bush got drafted.
Before that time, Lake was allegedly giving money to the Bush family. The court papers say that Griffin “had fallen on hard times financially and required immediate and significant financial assistance to support their respective lifestyles,” including “living and lifestyle expenses” of Reggie Bush.
Reggie Bush’s family barely had the money to support themselves, yet alone the super star lifestyle that came with Bush’s USC football success. If Bush could not make money off his stardom or have the time to get a job to help support his family, what else is he to do?
Michaels reportedly let Bush’s family live rent-free in a $750,000 house during Bush’s college career. Michaels had hoped that he would represent Bush in the NFL, but when Bush signed with Mike Ornstein and Joel Segal instead, Michaels went public with the housing arrangement. Michaels drew scrutiny to the player and the Trojans’ national championship team.
In June of 2010, the NCAA filed major sanction violations against Bush and USC. USC was given four years of probation, forced to lose all their wins from the 2005 season, including their National Championship win. They were also banned from post season play in 2010 and 2011 and lost 30 scholarships over those years, and were forced to permanently disassociate itself from Bush.
Bush was stripped on his 2005 Heisman Trophy and had to come to a settlement with the two agents. The two agents, on the other hand, were not charged of any wrong doing and made off with a large settlement.
The media covered the entire case, yet made Bush out to be the enemy and the agents to be victims. The problems posed by the current system are only compounded by the media scrutiny of modern intercollegiate athletics, with relatively minimal coverage of corrupt agents.
The media attacked Bush for himself and his family accepting these offers, yet never looked upon the fact that maybe the NCAA and the agents are to blame. The agents will continue to break this rule if there are no consequences.
The NCAA took full action against Bush, taking away every win and award he was apart of, yet made no actions against either agent. If the NCAA wants players to stop excepting brides, gifts and money, they would have to start penalizing the agents giving these student-athletes the perks.
Unfortunately, Bush is not the only big name athlete to violate NCAA Bylaw 12.3 in the past decade. Terrelle Pryor, currently a Quarterback for the Oakland Raider’s in the Nation Football League, also encountered problems with the NCAA during his time at Ohio State.