During the recent Reggie Bush Â-USC scandal, it has become more and more apparent that the current penalties for players breaking NCAA rules do not necessarily fit the crime.
According to the Associated Press, â€œThe NCAA report, released June 10, concluded that Bush and his family accepted improper benefits from marketing agents while he was playing for USC. The NCAA ruled that USC would have to vacate victories from late 2004 through the 2005 season, a period that included the Trojansâ€™ national title win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in January 2005. USC also was penalized with a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period.â€
While I agree that Bush should have been punished, I do not agree that current and future players at USC should be. Bushâ€™s teammates should not be penalized either. They won the National Championship as a team, not just because of Bush.
I have never been an USC fan, so I am not defending the school (if that is what this seems).
However, I am a college sports fan and believe that the sports programs are important to a school.
The two-year bowl ban will keep current players from participating in games, which, for many college football athletes, are the highlight of their career. It is more than about just winning those games; it is about the experiences that come along with those as well. The majority of college players donâ€™t go on to play professionally, and the bowl games are their chance to participate in something larger than regular season games.
Students who want to experience bowl games will have to go elsewhere and some might do just that. The NCAA did make some exemptions to its own rules in allowing current USC players to transfer to schools outside of the Pacific-10 Conference without sitting out the mandatory year, but even that is not fair to the players. They would still be punished for something that they did not do.
Bush should be punished, as should USCâ€™s football coach during that time, Pete Carroll. The past and current athletic director Mike Garrett should be penalized as well. You canâ€™t tell me either of them had no idea anything was going on. Carroll claims he didnâ€™t, but I just donâ€™t see how he couldnâ€™t have known something was up.
Instead of punishing the school, yank Bushâ€™s Heisman trophy and fine him, Carroll and Garrett. Use that money to help struggling schools and make an example out of it. In addition, fine the marketing agents who went after Bush. This problem needs to be stopped at both ends.
Just because Bush received money on the side does not take away from the fact that he was one of the greatest college football players during his Heisman year. But he did break the rules, so his personal accomplishments, not those of the team, should be stripped. In fact, if he had any integrity at all, he would man up to what happened and hand back the trophy without even being asked.
USC is not the first university to receive punishment for violating NCAA rules. Oklahoma, SMU and Alabama are all on the chopping block in the past and have been dealt pretty severe punishments. Just as in this case, many students suffered from the wrongdoings of someone else.
If the NCAA really wants to be a governing body, they need to punish those truly responsible and not the innocent bystanders. Bush already has a career in the NFL, and even if he â€œfeels badâ€ for his wrongdoing, it does nothing to curb future athletes from trying what he did.
Robyn Scherer is a graduate student at CSU. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org