There seems to be “much ado” over the sanctions on Reggie Bush for his improprieties during the 2005 football season at USC. As far as the harshness of the penalties handed down by the NCAA, there seems to be a line drawn right down the middle.

When you examine this issue, it is hard to come up on the right side of the coin. The deal here is the fact that Bush received some cash from some agents that were deemed a “loan” in order to purchase a home for his parents. All was well until one of the “lending parties” blew the whistle because Bush chose another agent.

The issue isn’t whether he borrowed the money; the big deal is who he borrowed it from. If Bush went to his next door neighbor and borrowed $500 grand and promised to pay it back when he reached the pros, there would be no big deal. If he went to a bank and signed up for the $500k—no problem. The NCAA couldn’t touch him and it would be business as usual.

And, while we are on the subject of gifts, the NCAA seems to be a bit nearsighted when it comes to selective sanctions. Not to defend Bush, but I don’t recall him ever making the news because he was arrested. However, we hear every season of some programs using athletes who have run afoul of the law.

Gifts are common place when it comes to stud athletes. I hope the NCAA doesn’t think that some of these athletes who are sporting Rolex watches and driving Porches are the beneficiaries of the deaths of rich uncles.

There are some programs where an athlete can return to his locker and find an envelope that wasn’t delivered by the mail man. Trust me, these are not invitations to listen to a lecture on real estate investments.

To put an end to some of the hoopla surrounding this issue, Bush has decided to return the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005. It’s a nice gesture, but for my money entirely unnecessary. There are more than a few Heisman recipients who have found their cash flow problems resolved by a little gift under the table.

What a lot of people don’t understand is the crappy existence of a scholarship athlete. A good percentage of them come from a low-income environment, and those of you who have attended college know there is no better feeling than going to your mail box and opening that letter with a few bucks from home. These kids don’t get the monetary care package from home and because they are on scholarship, they can’t hold a job. This too is an NCAA violation.

The big question for most is, “Should Bush return the Heisman?”

If so, shouldn’t USC return the cash from ticket sales resulting from all of the butts he put in the seats? How about the sales of jerseys sporting the No. 5? Shouldn’t USC return the checks Bush helped them pocket by taking them to the National Championship game twice?

For all intents and purposes, the NCAA can’t touch Bush since he has been five years removed from this issue. And if the money is an issue, Bush probably carries that much around just in case he sees a Lamborghini in a color he likes.

It hurts to see the bomb being dropped on USC, because the school probably had no clue that this was an issue in their back yard. If my cousin holds up a bank, I don’t think the rest of my family should be arrested. The loss of 30 scholarships over three years and the ban from Bowl games is a little harsh for my money.

USC Coach Pete Carroll jumped on a bus and went to Seattle to coach the Seahawks. This was a smart move since it was as far away from the drama and the NCAA he can get without leaving the planet.

I find it amusing that Vince Young now wants the Heisman since he placed second in the 2005 voting. Bush finished so far in front of him you couldn’t find him with binoculars. Maybe he thinks Reggie should give him his Super Bowl ring, too.

As far as the main issue is concerned, I think this is a classic example of a group of people looking for a way to justify the job they are holding. If they want to make an impression, they should be going after the criminals that emerge every season. When I look at the total picture and see that all of this drama is about a loan, I ask myself, “What’s the big deal?”

 

Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO