Why Reggie Bush thinks paying university athletes could “destroy some people”


If anyone knows the consequences of paying university athletes, it’s Reggie Bush. The former USC ball carrier saw his Heisman Trophy stripped as Trojans were hit heavily after the NCAA determined Bush and his family received nearly $ 300,000 in inadmissible benefits.

Of course, what Bush received while in USC would be allowed under potential new NCAA rules. In April, the NCAA Board of Governors supported a task force proposal that allow athletes to cash out on their names, images and similarities. The rules are expected to be drafted by October 31 and a vote will be taken by January 31, 2021. Name, image and likeness rights would then be in effect for the 2021-2022 sports season.

For many, the weight of NCAA support was a big step in the right direction, as it has been clear for some time that some university athletes have enough name recognition to monetize their brand.

However, Bush said in an interview with Playboy.com that accessing a sudden increase in money is not necessarily a good thing. Without the proper foundation and knowledge, this type of money can end up doing more harm. From the interview:

They are about to start paying university athletes. It is something that has never been experienced before and that will destroy some people if their foundation is not in the right place.

The only thing I wish I had at the start of my career was a good financial background. I hired good agents and I hired a good team. But I allowed this good team to make decisions for me. I’m not saying I’m going to go bankrupt, but if I had the knowledge then, some things would be different. People just assume, “Well, you’ve got all this money, so you’re good. It’s actually the opposite. The more money you have, the more you are in danger. Because now you are a scary target for many people. It’s an unpleasant world out there, and it’s about to get meaner. You’re really going to start seeing the real colors of a lot of people and a lot of companies as well. You’re going to see people doing crazy things to make money because our market is collapsing.

Bush’s “mo money, mo problems” view is not unknown when considering this topic, and there is merit. But that also doesn’t mean that the door to free market value for university athletes shouldn’t be opened. (And, to be clear, at no time did Bush say that athletes should not be allowed to capitalize on this value.)

Entering this unexplored college territory will require schools to commit more resources to ensure that athletes are better prepared for a new life in money management, perhaps in the form of mandatory courses, seminars or even additional staff members similar to tutors.


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