Former USC running back Reggie Bush is about to find out that, no matter how big or invincible you think you are, your actions have consequences.
Because, very soon, Bush is going to have to give back his 2005 Heisman Trophy – the most prestigious award an American college athlete can win. When Bush is forced to relinquish the Heisman, it will mark the first time in the 75-year history of the award that this sanction has been applied. All because Reggie Bush thought he was bigger than the college game. That the rules didn’t apply to him. That he set his own parameters in life. And, the saddest part is that Bush’s selfishness will affect the University of Southern California for years to come.
I cannot imagine that anyone, anywhere, who knows anything about the NCAA, doesn’t know that college athletes cannot accept gifts. Period. They can’t take clothing. They can’t take cars. They can’t take a complimentary limousine ride. I picked a random college website, San Diego State, and the rules are clear there…just like everywhere else.
“NCAA rules forbid an athlete from accepting expenses or gifts of any kind from an agent or anyone else who wishes to provide services to the student-athlete. Such payment is not allowed because it would be compensation based on athletic skills and preferential benefit not available to other students. NCAA rules forbid an athlete from receiving preferential benefits or treatment because of the athlete’s reputation, skill or potential as a professional athlete.”
Did you understand that? Me too. No gifts. Nothing free…from anyone. Yet Bush accepted many things – including a limo ride to the 2005 Heisman Trophy presentation! Hello, Reggie…anyone home? Bush’s actions have affected USC so deeply that current players are not allowed to play in a bowl game until 2012. Bet USC Athletic Director Pat Haden is really enjoying his job these days.
When are athletes going to figure life out? YOUR ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, GENTLEMEN! Ask former Canadian touring golf professional Jim Nelford. At the age of 29, in the prime of his career, Nelford thought water skiing would be a good idea. Right up until the boat’s propeller sliced his arm. He lived, but was never the same player. He made his living with the softness and touch in his hands and arms. All that was gone in an instant. There’s a reason professional athletes in team sports aren’t allowed to ride motorcycles or skydive or water ski.
Ask Pete Rose. Did your actions have consequences, Pete? You belong in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. You knew gambling on baseball was expressly forbidden…but you did it anyway. Not smart. I know, you bet on your Cincinnati Reds to win. I get it. Doesn’t matter, and you are still paying for your actions.
Ask Tim Horton (if you could). He thought racing home from Toronto to Buffalo, in his sports car, would be a good idea. His widow and children could have told you it was not.
Ask Plaxico Burress. Wide receiver for the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants. Caught the winning touchdown. Old Plax is currently serving two years in the slammer after pleading guilty to weapons charges. He shot himself in the leg while in a nightclub. But it looks like he might be out in early 2011. Maybe just in time to watch the Super Bowl on TV!
Obviously, some of these examples are more extreme than others. But the point is the same. Think. Think hard. About everything you do. Because it can affect you, your teammates, your spouse, your children for years to come.