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Reggie Bush's forfeited Heisman shines light on unfair system

Reggie Bush announced Tuesday that he would forfeit the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005 in the wake of an NCAA report that he received improper benefits while playing for Southern California. Bush and his family received up to $300,000 in perks and benefits in 2005 and 2006, and he now has become the first Heisman winner to give up the award.

While there's little question that Bush violated NCAA rules, the whole episode raises many questions. First among them is there appears to be no governance of university athletic programs in terms of conference expansion and moving game times for the benefit of television networks yet the rules prohibiting players from receiving anything deemed "improper" are seemingly endless.

I know the arguments all too well: "Rules are rules; don't break them. These kids get a free education. They get room and board; they get the chance to play at a great school." And my personal favorite: "I never received money as a student, so why should they?"

There's some validity to all these points. Rules do need to be followed. But when the rules are leaving one group of people exploited for the financial benefit of others, we need to ask whom those rules are serving. Revenue-sport athletes in major-college programs dedicate their lives to their sports; as a result, thousands pay money to attend their games, thousands more buy merchandise to show their pride in their programs, and television networks pay millions for the broadcast rights to their seasons.

Considering all the revenue they generate, is a paid education really sufficient compensation? Plenty of people are getting rich off the revenue generate by college football and men's basketball, yet players are portrayed as villains if they see any of that money. Are you offended yet? Because I most certainly am. Why? Because I was one of those people and because kids don't deserve this type of treatment from adults who not only make the rules but also benefit greatly from them.

I just think it's really wrong that we can pay money to cheer for these kids one minute and then say they deserve to be punished for trying to get any of that cash. College athletes who generate revenue deserve to be compensated in ways other students don't.

As for Reggie Bush and the countless other college kids who have fallen victim to a system that fails them, hopefully this episode forces people to take a closer look at the financial inequities of the current system.

You can't convince me that Bush is the first Heisman winner to receive benefits while competing in college. I'm shocked that other recipients aren't coming to Bush's aid. This is not good for them. It's not good for college sports, and it's not good for us, the fans who support our alma maters and favorite schools. It's just not fair.

By LaVar Arrington  |  September 15, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
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Lavarr I knew people that knew you at PSU, don't even complain about the unfair system. You took benefits and you know you shouldn't have.

99% of all college atheletes don't go pro. So a free education is your compensation.


Posted by: khornbeak | September 15, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry Lavar but I have to disagree as much as I possibly can. I understand the fact that colleges make a lot of money off of them. Is that wrong? No. Do the athletes maybe deserve the money? Maybe. But people don't get what they deserve, life isn't fair.

Does an 4.0 student deserve a full scholarship to a school more than an athlete (usually lower GPA, just the truth) who can play a game? So many times we read about all the scholarships for athletes while many other valuable students are left out. My experience comes from being an educator and watching many students unable to go to institutions at the insane cost whereas their athlete counterparts easily make the transition.It is not fair...and that's my point. The most intelligent students deserve to go to school and at little or no cost because of their hard work but many do not receive money and some never make it to school. Likewise, athletes work hard for their schools and promote their sports and "earn" lots of revenue for their schools. Do they deserve a piece? Maybe. Should they get it? No. Life isn't fair and until they fix the WHOLE system...there is no reason to complain about just the athletic portion.

I respect your opinion but in the grand scheme of things, there are more aspects that need to be fixed first. As for Reggie Bush, he broke the rules, case closed...there is no justification for that.

Posted by: svxcountry1 | September 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Generally speaking I believe that all college athletes should be compensated for the time and dedication, now the reality is that it probably could only work at the division 1 level as most other levels would not be able to generate enough funds to make that feasible.

For me the way that it should work is regardless or whether or not you are on scholarship and regardless or whether or not you play a 'cash generating sport' all of these athletes should be paid an hourly wage.

The wage should include all time that these athletes spend on their particular sport, including things like time in the weight room, practices, games, and travel time. Essentially it would be akin to having any other type of job on campus (6-8 dollars an hour would be fair). Anything more or less would be a violation (less and the school could face sanctions; more and the athlete and school could face sanctions).

I believe it would be reasonable to paid this type of wage, based on the fact that scholarship student-athletes are prohibited from working during the semester, and not to mention there simply is not enough time in the week to take a few credit load, play a sport and work a part-time job.

The cost of 'hiring' all student athletes would be funded through revenue generated by the individual schools, conferences and the NCAA itself (from TV rights, etc.).

Also I would say that beyond paying the wage school should be required to set aside a percentage of remaining monies generated for these sports to increase academic, merit and need based scholarships and financial aid.

As for Reggie Bush I believe he does deserve that consequences he is facing. 300,000 over 2 years is absurd, that is not a mistake...that is not an accident and really he has no one to blame but himself, because you can't expect receive that much compensation without there being strings attached...and the reality is that we most likely would have never heard about this if he used him as his agent or paid the money back. I believe that we would never have know about this incident if reggie had settled up with this guy.

Which is probably why you have never seen any other Heisman winners end up in this same situation...those others that received 'extra' benefits found a way to settle up.

Posted by: guinness4health | September 15, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Keep college sports pure! (or as pure as possible). For me this is what differentiates college sports from professional and partially what makes them so intriguing.

Do benefits happen? Sure. No system is perfect. But, enforcement should be stronger and as much effort made as possible to keep it clean.

Sure they help generate revenue for the school, but this is needed to help pay for a great coaching staff, a nice stadium that will draw in the fans, etc. These kids are getting free education which is more than most students can say. Make them earn their way to the big time! Don't hand it to them.

Posted by: TJQ2 | September 15, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

i have to say i dnt agree with the people who posted comments before me i can tell by their stance on the matter that they know nothing about being an inner city youth living poor did what reggie bush do was wrong?yes but dnt look down on him about it what wld his family have done if he ended p getting hurt before the draft they would still be stuck living in south central .

i also want to say him receiving money had nothing to do with his play on the field. i would understand taking his heisman if he was accused of doping or gambling and shaving points but thats not the case. regardless if he took the money e was still the best player in college football that year by far his accomplishments on the field should not be taken away from him for receiving money. I could even understand the consequences if he was an ineligible because of his grades but taking money to better his family is not wrong to me. and another arguement that one of the above comments said was that only the most intelligent should get scholarships is completely wrong. these kids sacrifice their bodies. half of them wont be able to walk by the time their 50. i dont think the "most intelligent" have that to worry about.

Posted by: james_9123 | September 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with LaVar and James. Reggie played stellar football - he put his heart and soul on the line for USC and made everyone of us proud to be called Trojans. $300,000 is not really a huge amount of money and I'm sure that money went to help his parents. To take all references to Reggie off of the campus is a disgrace to me - makes me very disappointed in my alma mater. They made tons of money off of him. To me Reggie will always be the Heisman winner of 2005.

Posted by: DixieLee | September 15, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

LaVar, very good article and I generally agree with what you have written. It is too easy in the current system to exploit players, many of whom have challenging economic backgrounds. The only solution is for the NCAA to revamp the entire system and get rid of the notion that FBS-level college football is an amateur sport: everyone is making an enormous amount of money except the players. You call out other Heisman Trophy winners, but someone has to be the first guy to say: "I took money for playing in college and so does everyone else." You could be that guy. Until someone is willing to take that risk and start the domino effect, we are stuck with the current system.

Posted by: CueballSF | September 15, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Does an 4.0 student deserve a full scholarship to a school more than an athlete (usually lower GPA, just the truth) who can play a game?"

I have yet to hear of a student packing in 90,000 fans per weekend to see his science projects!! Yet non-student athletes get scholarship money from the NCAA and sports sponsors every week. Football and basketball are entertainment and the talent should be paid. Reggie was the most gifted player that year and should not have returned his Heisman, he earned it on the field!

Posted by: mrlowery1 | September 15, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

What really gets me is the fact that these kids aren't even allowed to hold a part-time job (or any job, for that matter). College kids are broke, I know I was, and without my job I would have starved.

Posted by: ericroks | September 15, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Love your blogs man....and I want to state any and all responders to your blog on Reggie Bush, WERE NOT College they DO NOT understand (which you didn't really mention) the time eac hathlete has to GIVE the program, TIME which is NOT the athletes, TIME which is required by the is with the "GIVING" of the athletes time I dare say, please tell when adn where an Athlete was to work to earn any money while at school????
Any and all OTHER students in college to the 4.0 Scholarship student, etc...have their time to do their studies and then work if they so choose for pocket money, etc....BUT Big College athelets DO NOT have any of that TIME afforded the "AVERAGE" student, so I say, you are 1000% right in your take and again, any and all disapproving of what you are saying were NEVER a College Athlete! AND their comparison holds no water due to the Program's Time it TAKES from every College athlete!

Thanks gain for your Blogs, that are for sure the most insightful and what I call the "Little things" the avg. Joe or Joyce fan overlook that make the game/play/team work....Football is hardest sport to play, getting 11 players to do their job on every given play, so my hat is of to those, as I, who ever played it beyond high school.....definately the most cahllenging thing I ever did adn I received my degree!

Posted by: talbottj | September 15, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that the NFL and NBA are in bed with the NCAA to make sure that the NCAA can get as much as they can out of these athletes before they turn Pro. Elite Football and Basketball players from low income households should take note of what Brandon Jennings did. He played in Europe for a year, got drafted in the lottery, and made Dick Vitale and all the other NCAA apologists look stupid for saying he made such a big mistake. That's Basketball but if I were a kid who was an elite High School Football Player from a low income household I would think about playing in Canada until I'm eligible for the NFL draft. These guys let the NCAA pimp them because they get convinced by boosters, street agents, and NCAA groupies that they will have no professional career if they don't play in Bowl games or in March Madness.

Posted by: moseley_brian | September 15, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

My kids high school games bring a couple thousand $/game. Should we pay them too?
But, really, schools do bring alot of $ from football. How do you think they pay for the tennis and golf scholarships?

Posted by: markp255 | September 15, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

College is a time to learn and mature, prepare for the world of work. Who says a student-athlete on full scholarship should be working for pay? Their tuition and room/board are covered. So are tutors and other needs. I'm not discounting the fact that they need some spending money, but considering their families don't need to pay anything for tuition, etc...

I admit I am coming from a different perspective. I was a student-athlete at an ivy league school where they don't give sports scholarships. Most classmates who worked did so as part of their financial aid package. They didn't get to keep their pay, it went straight to tuition.

I know a fair amount about a local division 1 college football program through a friend who played for the team and now works there. I've met players. The money these athletic programs bring in funds research, scholarships, facilities, etc. so ALL students at the institution can benefit from a first-class education. The school wouldn't be as good without the revenue-generating sports teams or the 4.0 students (as well as those with lesser GPAs).

What makes a great college is the diversity of students (not just race, but geographic region, social class, talents, experiences), breadth of academics, and activities in which you can be involved from "practically professional" sports to intramural sports to any club imaginable.

Posted by: mgribben | September 15, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

He should keep it. To say he was a cheater is nuts. If you hand a guy a football and tell him to run through the other team's defense does he have an advantage if he's hired a manager who bought him a car (or what ever the details of the infraction might be)? He can't use the car on the field, he still has to run with the ball just like any other player.

To be honest I don't think that Bush giving up the Heisman is all that big a deal. The thing is that you can't take away the fact that he still did all those great things. It wasn't steroids it was something else, not specified which to be isn't a big deal in the big picture.

Bush wins either way. He goes undiscovered and wins the Heisman so gets the recognition by that panel as the best player. He gets caught and gives up the trophy but that doesn't take away the fact that the Heisman panel voted him as the best. Bottom line is Bush was the best player and he took some money. (but he was still the best player) Even if Reggie hadn't taken a dime he would still be the Heisman panels 2005 best player for that year. And rightfully so. It's nothin' but Reggie Bush's used condom now.

What Reggie did can't be taken back. Bush won the votes to the 2005 Heisman trophy winner because he was the best player on the field in 2005. If he was able to play that year I could see what you meant but he already played and already won the award. And rightfully so. It's nothin' but Reggie Bush's used condom now.

The media and the NCAA are telling us to misremember 2005's NCAA season. Not because of steroids but for what he calls a job now. Playing football for money. USC was Reggie Bush's apprenticeship program for the NFL.

This story is subtly deceptive. Guilt or innocense necessitates control over the party to be judged. Bush wasn't found "guilty" of anything and he's neither currently subject to the rules nor whims of the NCAA. On the other hand, the NCAA did pass judgment on USC. Substantively, whatever proclamations the NCAA makes about Reggie Bush today have as much force and effect as indicating a dislike of his tie.

Posted by: gokusc1 | September 15, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I have absolutely no sympathy for Reggie Bush. He and his family took lots of money and perks - and it wasn't like this was just-getting-by money. They all lived large and thumbed their noses at the rules. All this on top of a free ride at USC, one of the most expensive universities in the country. I wonder how much effort Reggie put into that educational opportunity - one which so many academically gifted students never get. What Reggie Bush did, with the complicity of USC, is at best disgraceful and taints the integrity of all collegiate athletics. Under the circumstances, both Reggie and USC got off easy. Not to mention Pete Carroll, who bailed out of USC just in time to avoid taking his share of the punishment.

Posted by: ptr75 | September 15, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Spoken like an athlete that attended a prestigious university for free. What does a degree from USC cost? $300,00? $400,00? More? Granted, Bush didn't get one but he had a free ticket for it. He opted for short term and selfish goals. Shocking.

Posted by: hand_of_doom | September 15, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

at that point, a degree from USC probably was on the order of $160,000.

I think that if you dedicate your life to a sports programme, which is what these athletes have to do, you will likely not have time for a job to earn money for living expenses. I think that a living expense stipend should be a part of receiving such an athletic scholarship. A few thousand bucks.

Another point: Folks who play DI major (football, basketball, perhaps baseball, laccrosse, and hockey) overwhelmingly tend to have that activity as their top priority in life. Academics are not first on most Div. I athletic teams. Therefore, it's not like these kids have the time to get the education they would otherwise pay for.
Reggie Bush did not get $160,000 worth of education from USC. He couldn't have. He probably ate, slept, and breathed football.

Posted by: j762 | September 15, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Lavar, I agree with you that college athletes should be allowed to receive some compensation for their services. Big-time college football, after all, has almost nothing to do with college or education and everything to do with money and big business. However, there's a big difference between a player getting paid by a university, or entering into a marketing agreement, pursuant to a hypothetical new NCAA program, and surreptiously taking money and benefits from a so-called agent of dubious legitimacy.

Certainly Reggie's not the only one, or the only Heisman winner, to have done it - he's just the first to get caught.

Posted by: skinsfan713 | September 15, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Lavar, I just heard you rant about this on your radio show. Where do I begin? First of all, every 4.0 student DOES NOT get a full scholarship to college. There are many other factors that go into academic scholarships and students work for four years in AP and IB classes to try and get one. In your effor to state your case, you have completely minimized the importance of the academic side of college life. If we listened to you, we'd just shutter the classrooms and keep the stadiums open. I graduated from LSU and I tutored athletes who could barely read, but they had been admitted under requirements that were lower than those required of me. Is that fair? I know how much LSU means to the city of Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana. I know what it means to me. My week is made or broken based on whether LSU wins or loses. I also know that the alumni of that university that I admire the most did not lace up their cleats on Saturdays. James Carville and Donna Brazile are more significant to me than LaRon Landry or Alan Faneca...and I'm a Steelers fan! You said on your show that these cities would DIE without these programs. Really? UT is important to Austin, but so is the state government and a little company called Dell. Maybe you've heard of it? Los Angeles loves the Trojans, but they make these moving pictures there and they will continue to make them if the Colisseum burns down tomorrow. You asked who builds all of those buildings on these campuses. Well, at UT there's an alumnus who has a ton of buildings named after him and he didn't play football there. Google Joe Jamail. No, nobody went to see Joe Jameil study when he was in college or law school, but they certainly pay to sit in his office at about $500 an hour. I do believe that athletes sometimes get the short end of the deal because they are often used up and most don't make the pros. In your defense of them, however, you made it seem like the tuition that the other 30,000 students pay is insignificant. Can you please call the company that holds my student loan and explain how insignificant my tuition was in the grand scheme of things. LSU's football team didn't factor in my decision to go there. It was just an added bonus. Unfortunatley, because of the emphasis on football in the media, my diploma is smirked at because it's a "football" school. I know I received a damned good education, but because a football player with an IEP was admitted; my education is suspect. Get your facts together about college scholarships and the networks of educated people that exist long after college. Ever heard of frats and sororities? Biggest networks ever! I tried to call your show, but they stopped taking calls. And tell your call screener that everyone isn't a "dude".

Posted by: spylibra | September 15, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

And you say that an education is not fair compensation? What a sad, sad comment. I guess that's how much you value education. With an edcuation, a former student-athlete can take care of himself for the rest of his/her life, while possibly contributing to society.His career will go on beyond the day his knees give out or one too many concussions turn his brain to mush. How many broke former-atheltes are out there because they didn't take advantage of the system and GET a damned education! Maybe take a few accounting classes. And as for Reggie Bush, I feel no pity for him. I listened to the guy who blew the whistle on him. He wasn't asking for money to get by. He wanted a ride and rims and his parents wanted a house. That's greedy - not needy.

Posted by: spylibra | September 15, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

To be honest I don't think that Bush giving up the Heisman is all that big a deal. The thing is that you can't take away the fact that he still did all those great things. It wasn't steroids it was something else, not specified which to be isn't a big deal in the big picture.

He wins the Heisman so gets the recognition by that panel as the best player. He gives up the trophy but that doesn't take away the fact that the Heisman panel voted him as the best. Bottom line is Bush was the best player in 2005. (he was still the best player) Even if Reggie hadn't taken a dime he would still be the Heisman panels 2005 best player for that year. And rightfully so. It's nothin' but Reggie Bush's used condom now.

What Reggie did can't be taken back. He should keep it. To say he was a cheater is nuts. If you hand a guy a football and tell him to run through the other team's defense does he have an advantage if he's hired a manager who bought him a car (or what ever the details of the infraction might be)? He can't use the car on the field, he still has to run with the ball just like any other player.

Posted by: gokusc1 | September 15, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

College athletes are supposed to the "amateurs", that is, not professionals. Professionals receive pay; amateurs do not. In fact, the noun AMATEUR has 2 senses:
1. someone who pursues a study or sport as a pastime
2. does not play for pay
Professionals, on the other hand, by definition, play for pay. The word “amateur” comes from a French word meaning: "lover of". An amateur is someone who does something (e.g. play the piano, football) because they enjoy doing it. They are not doing it in order to be paid. It is not how they earn money to live.
The question is, do we want our college athletes to be professionals?
Historically, the answer is no.

Posted by: haly2k1 | September 15, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Lavar all the way.Yes, there are students that go to school solely for academics and have to pay their own way. But a majority of these students don't make the school a dime. Think about how much time a football player spends on football but not actually playing. I can guarantee USC made at least 5 time the 300K they gave Reggie. If you really want to play the moral and high road, get rid of these boosters. Also, make USC give back all of the cash they made during the Reggie Bush era. But that won't happen, cause its easier to slam the players, who at the time are between 18-21, than it is for a bunch of grown men to be accountable. Next time a young amn is caught like this, fine the school 5 million, and fire EVERYONE in the football department and the AD. That will stop all the side hustling that is going on.

Posted by: dolemite1 | September 15, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

What other job starts out with paychecks in the millions per year? I worked my whole career as a teacher and never made even one million total over 33 years. They get paid when they finish their college eligibility! And if they choose to waste it so they don't have anything left to retire on that is their personal problem.

Posted by: Formerathlete | September 15, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

It probably is time for every athlete who has ever found the envelope with cash in his locker or towel after a game to step forward.
How many former players in Div 1, 2 and 3 have regaled dinner parties and keg's in the back yard with their great hit, interception, punt block, touchdown and the "surprise" Ben Franklins in their locker?
It is time to knock off the sanctimonious NCAA definition of "student athlete". How many times and in how many schools has winning been really defined by the "Best" money could buy?
Recruiting with where-with-all has always trumped the schools that didn't have the means.

Posted by: Rock1 | September 16, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

"Rules are rules; don't break them. These kids get a free education. They get room and board;"

Hey you know how many kids that can't play some silly stick or ball game would like to get that deal too, ones that actually go to school to get a degree in something worth while, engineering, math, science, medical fields, law..., instead of the typical drivel of communications or general studies and other non-brainer programs that alot of the athletes take only because they go there for a year or two to go play professional afterwards and have no intention of graduating? Alot of them would....but, I'll agree with you that sure, the school should just pay them to play...and once they are done...then let them choose to go to school if they want....this idea of the student-athlete is a farce...they are there to play the sport to generate revenue for the school, and thats their main focus...not school. Given the amount of travel, practice, film sessions, and other things for their can they really have time to learn anything else?

Posted by: nowhine | September 16, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

It sounds to me like LaVar is not fully valuing the education and boarding that they receive. Many of these colleges that we're talking about cost $30,000 - $80,000 a year when including boarding and all that a student normally receives. That's not chump-change and more than your usual student salary.

Posted by: bentoenail | September 16, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I like to think that we've moved on from Avery Brundage's mindless promotion of amateurism. What real difference does it make if players get paid? Just call it a "stipend", and allow it to be paid, with full disclosure, through booster funds. Yes, the college education is worth something, but many pro prospects will never use the degree or even attain it.

And if you think that a system where coaches are paid millions while players are paid nothing is stable, you're a fool. One of these days, someone is going to come along with a business plan for a developmental league which will skim all the top players off of the colleges and relegate the NCAA to irrelevance.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | September 16, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow growing up poor or growing up rich means you don't have to have morals?

What's unfair is WHY does Reggie Bush think he can get benefits and the honest poor kid doesn't?

Look the kids get free room, board, education and a chance to make it in the athletic or professional world. That's far better chance they get.


Posted by: khornbeak | September 16, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I totally DISAGREE with the view that college scholarship athletes should receive more compensation than the $30-40 thousand per year in free education, room and board than they already receive.

College athletic departments are not like pro sports franchises, where the revenues go to make a group of already-rich people richer. Proceeds from revenue producing sports like college football and basketball go to fund non-revenue sports (including womens' sports, which, in most cases, are not revenue-producing), to build and maintain facilities for those sports and for the use of the college community as a whole, and to the colleges' general fund. If you pay athletes, non-revenue sports will get cut, student activity fees will go up, and there will be less money available for the colleges as a whole.

Posted by: rbpalmer | September 16, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I wrote a response to Yee's article at that talked about both of these, but in summary these players don't see a scholarship in terms of value which is the biggest problem. Also if you are saying they should just go pro....sorry they can't for 3 years. Colleges should still just be in the business of offering scholarships but the NCAA needs to stay out of what they can receive off the field. Just make sure they can't do it for compensation. Why do we in America feel they can just control what a player can receive off the field when the colleges are receiving millions for their work. I'm not saying pay them, just don't stop them from getting gifts.

Posted by: raybell84 | September 16, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

As usual this is not as clearcut as it seems. Athletes are not the only students who receive scholarships including room and board. These other students have unrestricted means of supplementing their income that are not available to athletes - i.e. getting paying jobs on or off campus that they can use to cover things like car payments and clothes etc.
So the vast majority of student athletes who adhere to the rules have a harder time than you would believe making it day to day. And not all of them have parents who make enough money to help out.

Posted by: geotherm21 | September 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The way I see it, is like this. When your poor, in America, it's difficult to break that cycle of being poor. Living on a coal miners salary, does not give one the means to pay for college. Many parents see football as the answer, in order for their child to go on to college. (But, any sport will do)

It is true, only the best of the best, in college, move on to the pro's. However, playing football in college, gives the player, at the least, the little piece of paper that says, "You've passed" and opens doors for decent paying jobs. Playing any collegant sport gives the kids dicipline, self worth etc, which are all good things to learn.

Granted, there are those that lack the athletic abilities that provide, essentially, free rides to a college. However, if one looked hard enough, a scholarship you will find. There are so many scholarship funds to send people to college that can't afford it.

Reggie Bush was accused of taking money and gifts from agents. Holy Crap, stop the presses!! This happens in college sports?!? Don't be so bloody naive. In 2005, did you turn on USC games to watch the crowds? Did you turn on the games to watch their opponents? Or did you turn it on to watch Reggie Bush? Twas mostly for Bush that people turned on their TV's to watch USC games.

With Reggie taking it upon himself to return the trophy, makes me sad, but also proud of him.

How assinine this whole thing has become? What, do American's not get enough drama in their lives from American Idol and the fact that the bank is breathing down their necks to pay the mortgage that we have to vilify somone who we cheered and praised 5 years ago?

I also think that it benifits Reggie. No matter what the NCAA will try to do to erase what USC and Reggie Bush did, history has already been written and if the future generations wonder why there's that gap, just a little time on Google (or someother search engine) will present them with what happened.

A player with great abilities and skills villified for something that runs rampid in NCAA to begin with.

Just my .02

Posted by: dogboy | September 16, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Calling most players "student" athletes is a sick joke. They're breathing ATMs for their university's sports program, and the universities typically couldn't care less about whether any of these students is actually getting an education as long as they perform. At the same time, any relationship between a "student" athlete and the larger university community is purely accidental. I went to a tiny college (<2,500 students) with a Div. I men's hockey team and a Div. I women's soccer team. In a place that small, you'd think that I would have interacted almost daily with athletes, but I NEVER saw any of the athletes in any class, I NEVER saw any of the players in a dorm or in the dining hall. Any money that the teams made went back into the teams (or to the salary of the head coach), leaving nothing for the improvement of the rest of the college. If universities had any self-respect or integrity, they would rid themselves of their intercollegiate athletic programs. Let the major leagues then use these athletes to develop minor or junior feeder leagues where the players get paid to perform, and where sports fans who like the more freewheeling aspects of sub-major league play can go for their fix.

Posted by: prgeyer | September 16, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I am offended LaVar. Every year that goes by I am a little less interested in NCAA sports in the top divisions. Each year, when you think you've heard or seen it all, the NCAA rises to yet another level of hypocrisy. I know that the NCAA doesn't run the Heisman program (the NY DTAC does), but they run just about everything else and don't ever seem to miss an opportunity to get chesty with 18 to 20-somethings. Please.

I hear the arguments about free education, math and english majors not getting any freebies, etc., etc., etc. All of these arguments certainly have merit. However, the kids at the big time programs are generating hundreds of millions in revenue for the schools and the NCAA, yet if they sway out of line, the hammer falls mercilessly. I don't understand why this doesn't happen more often to some of the sawed-off Napoleons so abundant in college coaching (yes, there are some very fine college coaches.....and we know who they are).

Finally, who was the older man sitting behind Reggie Bush at the Heisman Award Ceremony? The one acting like he just won the trophy? Was it Reggie's father? If so and judging by his reaction, I have a hunch as to who was pulling the behind the scenes strings to rake in the cash, houses and other perks. That would make me feel even worse for Reggie.

Posted by: prestoj | September 16, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

If students can go work at the university library or be a teacher's assistant and get paid (some of them who are on scholarships), then yes, student atheletes should get paid.

I worked as a cameraman on campus TV, got paid $8 an hour; was a graduate assistant and got paid $10-12 an hour, and yes I was on a scholarship. The TV camera job had absolutely nothing to do with what I was studying at the time and with what eventually became my career.

The caveat was that anything I wrote, researched, or presented on while employed a graduate assistant was intellectual property of the university.

The fact that 99% of student atheletes dont end up in pro sports just lends more wood to the fire as to why they should get paid a stipend. Furthermore, some of them are walk-ons and not even on scholarship.

Fact is, universities, especially the small ones who dont make much $$ off their sports program probably would not be able to run their programs with a profit if they had to pay "student atheletes."

Posted by: vmrg1974 | September 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

In Virginia students are lucky to be accepted to a top school with a 4.0, extensive of extracurriculars, and a great SAT score, nevermind them getting a scholarship.

Regardless, football players do generate tons of money for colleges and are left with little time to study. Why not just cut the farce of calling them students, and pay them like other school employees? If they don't go to the NFL they can devote the years after they finish playing to getting a real college education.

Posted by: CMS2003 | September 16, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse


University of Texas at Austin which has the richest athletics program in the nation ($127 Million) makes up 6% of their school's budget ($2.140 Billion). Tuition and student fees makes up 24% of their budget $515 Million. I think it covers more than the utility bills. Most of a large school's budget comes from the state, tuition, and research grants.

Second, paying student athletes? That is crazy a free education (or part their tuition), board, and food isn't enough? Most of that money is paid to coaches, stadium operating costs, other staff, etc. Where would that money come from much less money to send back to a family?

Get the facts before you say that Penn State's campus is almost solely paid for due to their football program when their research programs, state funding, and tuition make up the vast majority of the school's budget.

Posted by: bassguy654 | September 16, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

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