So now, it appears, Reggie Bush’s fabulous stint at the University of Southern California never happened. As reported on ESPN, the Heisman Trophy Trust will strip Bush of his 2005 Heisman Trophy and leave the award “vacant.”
The Trust’s own investigation coincides with the NCAA’s finding that Reggie accepted “improper benefits” while at Southern Cal. (The school’s football program has already crippled with a four-year probation, a two-year bowl ban, and a reduction in football scholarships.)
Thus Reggie Bush, hailed by many as the best running back to come out of college this past decade, will become an object of disgrace, the first player in the 75-year history of the Heisman award to have his trophy taken away from him.
That’s not all. In compliance with the NCAA’s directive to the school to disassociate itself from Bush, USC has removed virtually all references to him, such as pictures and murals hanging in the school’s athletic department and dorm.
What exactly did Bush do to merit the status of pariah? Apparently he accepted some gifts from sports marketers while still in college, including a new suit and a limousine ride when he came to New York in December of 2005 to accept his Heisman Trophy. And here’s the real crime: his family was given a rent-free home. In other words, Bush dared to try and cash in on his own celebrity, cutting himself in on the revenue he was creating for the University of Southern California and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Lest we forget, that’s exactly what the NCAA was created to do: to control the earning power of college athletes.
Question: where exactly is the ACLU when a poor black athlete needs him?
The NCAA has transformed itself into much more than lawmaking body: it has become an institution that demands the right to manipulate our memory. Southern Cal fans are now being told not to remember or appreciate the thrills that Reggie Bush brought to the Trojans.
One might have thought that if the NCAA was going to start recalling Heisman Trophies, they would have started with another USC running back by the name of O.J. Simpson. But good news, Southern Cal fans: you’re allowed to remember O.J. — he didn’t accept any gifts from sports agents.