While many agree that paying athletes is a topic that has long needed addressing from NCAA organizations, there are some who think money is a dangerous factor to add to the life of a college athlete.
Just ask Reggie Bush. He, more than most, has an interesting perspective on the matter.
In 2005, Reggie Bush brought home the Heisman Trophy after an unbelievable junior campaign, finishing with over 2,200 yards from scrimmage to go along with 19 total touchdowns. But that 2005 trophy doesn’t belong to anybody now, after Bush decided to forfeit the award in the midst of an investigation that found that Bush and fellow USC Trojan O.J. Mayo received improper benefits as student-athletes.
In his statement regarding the forfeiture of the trophy, Bush said that he wanted to work to “assist student-athletes… avoid some of the mistakes that I made.” The long-time running back may have his hands full soon, given that the NCAA recently supported a proposal that would allow student-athletes to be paid through endorsement deals, among other work. This “uncharted territory,” as labeled by NCAA board member and Ohio State president Michael Drake, is viewed by many as a huge step forward in getting this student-athletes some of the financial benefits that they deserve.
“I would like to help people, but I’d rather just pop in for guidance,” Bush said, responding to a question regarding whether or not he’d consider coaching. “They’re about to start paying college athletes. This is something that has never been experienced before, and it’s going to destroy some people if their foundation is not in the right place.”
Bush referred to his own foundation, which he alleges made financial decisions for him that ultimately derailed his legacy in college football to some fans.
“The one thing I wish I had early in my career is proper financial knowledge,” Bush said. “People just assume, ‘Well, you got all this money, so you’re good.’ It’s actually the opposite.
“The more money you have, the more danger you’re in.”
Bush added to this ominous remark by commenting on the current economic landscape, affected in an unprecedented manner by the coronavirus pandemic, and suggesting that this situation would be ideal for money-hungry businesses looking to take advantage of unknowing young athletes that are now “open target(s)”.
While we can’t say for sure whether or not younger athletes have been taken advantage of and ripped off throughout this pandemic, we do know that athletes are struggling during this time. In early April, Blazers guard CJ McCollum mentioned that he thought one-third of the NBA’s players were living “paycheck-to-paycheck”, attributing this shocking statistic to a lack of financial literacy.
If professional athletes are making harmful decisions that leave them in financial jeopardy even while reeling in six- and seven-figure contracts, Bush’s concern for the college athletic community is well-grounded.