As of early 2006, the NCAA still had plenty of fans and media brainwashed about the sanctity of a system that exploits athletes. In the 14 years since then, plenty of people have embraced the notion that it’s flat-out wrong to take advantage of the skills and abilities of young football players, giving them something far less than fair value in return for their efforts and sacrifices.
In the days when hackneyed notions of amateurism still mattered, USC running back Reggie Bush found himself in the midst of a controversy based on his parents receiving free rent from a group that hoped to represent Bush. The scandal caused the Texans not to take Bush with the first pick in the 2006 draft (the Saints pounced at No. 2 that year), and it resulted in the NCAA eventually stripping USC of a national title and taking back a Heisman Trophy that Bush had rightfully earned.
Bush recently addressed the award the NCAA took from him during an appearance on Cold As Balls from Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud.
“I 1,000 percent want my damn Heisman Trophy back,” Bush told Hart. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want it back. But to me the silver lining is, I believe what happened with me had to happen so we could get here in 2020.”
Bush should get his Heisman back. He never should have had to give it up. “Rules are rules” nonsense has allowed the NCAA to maintain an inherently corrupt system. Even though that inherently corrupt system has yet to show significant signs of making the dramatic changes that become more overdue with each passing day, the rest of the world now views issues of amateurism and revenue generation far differently than ever before.
Hopefully, more and more changes will come for the NCAA. Hopefully, players eventually will get properly compensated for the massive amounts of money they generate.
Until then, our message to all college athletes is this: Get what you can, when you can, while you can. It’s only “wrong” in the eyes of those who would deny you what you deserve.