The NCAA approved student-athletes benefiting from their name, image and likeness, but it won’t reverse its actions against their former star athletes.
In 2010, USC’s legendary running back Reggie Bush records were vacated by the NCAA after he was found in violation due to receiving improper benefits from the school. Bush also forfeited his 2005 Heisman Trophy.
“Over the last few months, We reached out to the NCAA on multiple occasions and received no help or got no response at all. It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman trophy “solely” due to my hard work and dedication on the football field and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated,” Bush said in a statement.
According to HuddleUp’s Joe Pompliano, Bush would have earned between $4 and $6 million per year if the NCAA had permitted athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness during his tenure.
Most athletes accept these benefits out of pure necessity, not for greed. Like Bush, some star college athletes come from extremely adverse situations and are thrusted into the spotlight. Although their environments have changed, many of their families are still struggling to pay bills and often go into debt getting that athlete to school.
High school phenom James Wiseman was suspended for 12 games by the NCAA for “recruiting inducements received by his family” prior to enrolling at Memphis. The NCAA also required Wiseman to donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice as part of his suspension.
The suspension was based on a $11,500 payment made by Penny Hardaway to Wiseman’s mother in 2017 to assist the Wiseman family with their relocation from Nashville to Memphis. Hardaway was an assistant coach at East High School in Memphis at the time, as well as a well-known AAU coach. However, by the time Wisemen arrived in Memphis, Hardaway had taken over as head coach of the Tigers.
Had Wiseman been able to profit off his name, image and likeness he would’ve been able to afford travel expenses therefore eliminating the need for assistance from a “booster”.
Booster clubs back the desires of college coaches and athletic directors. They are available to volunteers, donors, and hungry athletes. They’ll often cover things that aren’t in the school budget. However, boosters have often taken additional steps that ensure an athlete’s family is taken care of which violates NCAA rules.
The Michigan Wolverines, who became one of college basketball’s most successful programs during the “Fab Five” days of the 1990s, forfeited their victories, and ordered the championship banners taken down. Ed Martin, a booster for the Wolverines, donated a large sum of money to the school’s star players, one of those being NBA legend Chris Webber.
Webber took to twitter after the NCAA’s decision stating “ Ummmm sooo …whoever has the key please hit me up. I need that key.. You know.. The one to the secret room with the Banners.”
The Wolverines forfeited games from the ’92 Final Four games vs. Cincinnati and Duke, plus the entire ’92-93, ’95-96, ’96-97, ’97-98 and ’98-99 seasons.
The NCAA is taking a hands-off approach, but mant hope there are some retroactive measures taken to recognize what players like Bush and Webber accomplished and right the wrongs done against them.