Thou shalt not screw over college athletes

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

The NCAA, after ignoring numerous requests to alter or do away with some of its more obnoxious policies, has just landed on my list of organizations that deserve to be publicly humiliated.Because it pissed me off on a day when I had nothing else to write about, it will get its just desserts long before the other acronyms on my list, even though AAA, AA and the AARP have been on it for much longer.The NCAA is apparently determined to prove that former USC star Reggie Bush accepted nearly $100,000 worth of freebies from various agents while still playing collegiate athletics, an offense that NCAA officials consider in terms of severity on par with selling atomic secrets to the Russians.If the stuffed shirts at the NCAA find the allegations to be true, both Bush’s Heisman Trophy and the two national titles he helped the Trojans win could be in jeopardy.Personally, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Even if Bush suddenly admitted to taking $100 million, a space shuttle and a small African country in gifts from prospective agents, I wouldn’t fault him for it. And there’s no way I’d touch his Heisman, either. Besides, if the powers that be were going to start revoking Heismans, I’d suggest that they start with the players who didn’t deserve them in the first place-Jason White, Eric Crouch, Desmond Howard and Ty Detmer, to name a few.The NCAA seems to have forgotten how much it depends on players like Reggie Bush for its very existence. Without talented players like Bush, college football would be little more than another footnote on ESPN2, just like cheerleading competitions and the WNBA.Seriously, there is no telling just how many people got rich off of Reggie Bush while he was at Southern California. How many people bought tickets just to see him do his thing? How many bought magazines just because his mug was on the cover? How many of his jerseys did USC sell?Millions of people tuned in to watch USC take on lowly Fresno State last fall, and something tells me that they weren’t taking time out of their busy schedules to watch Paul Pinegar, the Bulldogs’ quarterback.Long story short, Bush was a cash cow for the NCAA, for television networks and for anyone else who managed to get within a stone’s throw of the kid. The one thing that all of these people had in common is that none of them was named Reggie Bush.In our modern capitalist economy, the idea that an individual could play such a key part in generating literally millions of dollars and, yet, be legally prohibited from receiving any of it, is singularly absurd.Bush was expected to live on a $1,000 stipend from USC while his talent and 24-karat smile bought new cars, yachts and ivory backscratchers for rich old men. I don’t know what kind of background I would need to get into the business of exploiting athletes, but I’m changing my major as soon as I find out.I completely understand why the suits are so upset about this whole alleged scandal. Some kid made a few bucks and they didn’t get their cut.I really hope Reggie took the hundred grand. Hell, I hope he took way more than that. It was rightfully his, anyway.