It was just 15 years ago that running back Reggie Bush earned his Heisman Trophy in a landslide victory. It was then 5 years later that he had to return the Heisman himself because he received “illegal” gifts and benefits from USC boosters and sports marketers to play for the Trojans. The collection of the benefits deemed him “ineligible” to receive the honor.
Reggie’s 2005 Heisman victory has been vacated because of the NCAA’s findings and the NCAA vehemently disallowed student athletes to capitalize or profit off their likeness, name, or image. The NCAA should now give the trophy back to Reggie.
While an example was being made out of USC and Reggie Bush for these infractions, just a mere 9 years later Disney reportedly bid $400million to gain the rights to the SEC football games in the fall. These college athletics TV deals are all too common and the amount of exposure and leverage that these colleges are using to profit off their students becomes comparing boulders to pebbles when looking at a case like Reggie Bush. The NCAA, TV Networks, and college conferences made hundreds of millions of dollars off Reggie and other athlete’s likeness and they were supposedly not allowed to cash in on any of that. Many would say that is both unfair and unjust.
Now, if you fast forward to today it looks like Reggie will be vindicated. This week the NCAA board of governors announced they will be taking official steps to allow their student athletes to accept 3rd party endorsements in regards to their name, images, and likeness. For many, this change seems like common sense as it has been too long that major universities and corporations have used these amateur athletes to drive huge revenues to fund their programs, take large salaries, and turn massive profits.
With these prohibitions scheduled to be lifted in 2021, it changes the entire dynamic of college sports in regards to how these kids will leverage their platforms and make a name for themselves beyond just the world of sports.
Reggie Bush may have broken the rules back when he was an undergrad, but all too many people knew at the time, and know now, that the rule was broken itself. Reggie never hurt anybody and was forced to vacate the most prestigious award in college football all because he took a small piece from the pie (and got caught).
The NCAA took a step in doing the right thing with easing these restrictions. But, the correct way to rectify and completely christen this new rule would be to publicly re-present the 2005 Heisman Trophy to Reggie Bush.
Give the man his Heisman back.
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