The actual policy reads:
“When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of violations … and imposes a sanction of forfeiture or vacation of contests in which an ineligible student-athlete participated, we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is warranted.”
There is simply no doubt if the NCAA finds Bush in violation of NCAA rules, the Trojan’s 2004 national championship would be forfeited under such a policy considering the pivotal role Bush played during that season.
Keep in mind that the NCAA probe in fact centers not only on Reggie Bush and the football program, but the OJ Mayo scandal and the basketball program as well. But if the resignation of the head basketball coach Tim Floyd and self-imposed penalties including forfeiting 21 wins doesn’t imply guilt, then I don’t know what does.
The evidence against the football program and Reggie Bush is equally damning.
Originally written back in a 2008 article:
In 1987, Southern Methodist University, a WAC conference team was handed the NCAA ‘death penalty’ because 21 players received approximately $61,000 in cash payments from a booster while they were on probation for another violation. The penalty was downright shocking. A loss of 55 new scholarships over 4 years, loss of 3 coaching positions for 2 years, cancellation of the 1987 season and a limit of only 7 games (all on the road) for the 88′ season, and a 2 year bowl, TV ban. The consequences of the penalty was so severe that the school voluntarily canceled the 88′ season as a lost cause.
Now fast forward to 2010. 23 years after the dreaded SMU ‘death penalty’, the NCAA is faced with yet another possible headache. After an eight month investigation by Yahoo! Sports, it has been revealed that USC Heisman winning running back Reggie Bush has been receiving improper benefits during the 2 years he attended the university, 1 of which when they won the national championship. This was not one isolated incident where Reggie Bush was given money, but a 2 year long history of improper benefits for Reggie as well as his immediate family members. Documented records show:
* $595.20 in round-trip airfare from San Diego to Oakland in November 2005 for Bush’s stepfather, LaMar Griffin, his mother, Denise Griffin and younger brother to attend the USC-California game at Berkeley. The fees were charged to the credit card of Jamie Fritz, an employee of Ornstein. The document detailing the charges was provided by Lee Pfeifer, an estranged business associate of Ornstein’s.
* $250.65 for limousine transportation from the Oakland airport to the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco that November weekend for the Bush family, charged to Fritz, according to a document. Ornstein acknowledged both he and Bush’s family stayed at the luxury hotel.
* Suits for Bush’s stepfather and brother to wear during the Dec. 10, 2005 Heisman ceremony in New York, a makeover for his mother for the event and limousine transportation;
* Weekly payments of at least $1,500 to the Bush family.
* $623.63 for a hotel stay by Bush at the Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from March 11-13, 2005, charged to Michaels, according to a document signed by Bush.
* $1,574.86 for a stay by Bush at the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego from March 4-6, 2005, paid for by Michaels, according to a hotel document, a hotel employee and a source.
* Approximately $13,000 to Bush from New Era to purchase and modify a car, three sources said.
* As reported by Yahoo! Sports in April, $54,000 in rent-free living for a year at Michaels’ $757,500 home in Spring Valley, Calif., according to Michaels and San Diego attorney Brian Watkins.
* Also from previous Yahoo! reports, $28,000 from Michaels to help Bush’s family settle pre-existing debt, according to Michaels and Watkins.
* Thousands of dollars in spending money to both Bush and his family from the prospective agents, according to multiple sources.
So why the hold up? This has been in the news and even redocumented in the book ‘Tarnished Heisman’ in even greater detail and Reggie Bush still cannot be forced to talk. The NCAA isn’t exactly a beacon of consistency when it comes to handing out sanctions for similar crimes which is also why the outcry of anger from fans across the country alleging bias by the NCAA towards USC and protecting their modern dynasty. Such allegations may actually be based on some truth.
In 1989, Oklahoma State was levied with a 2 year TV ban, 3 year bowl ban, and loss of 5 new scholarships for 3 years for 1 athlete receiving cash payments and a sports car at no cost during his first 2 years with the team.
Then in 1996, Florida State was given no sanctions when players were taken by prospective agents on a documented $6000 shopping spree at Foot Locker including dinner outings and small cash payments. The difference? The NCAA found little evidence of the school’s knowledge or participation during the violations.
Well that makes sense, Florida State knew nothing of the violations when they happened if they found no evidence of it many of you will say. Well, in USC’s case, it is well known that sports agents wander Heritage Hall where USC’s athletics offices are located:
according to a Los Angeles Times story that documented the rampant presence of agents at USC during the 2005 season.In January, according to the Times, USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel surveyed the lobby outside the football offices and saw more than a dozen unfamiliar faces.
Furthermore, sources told Yahoo! Sports that representatives of a fledging marketing firm from which Bush and his family allegedly received improper benefits were allowed in the USC locker room during the 2005 season.
Sources also said USC running backs coach Todd McNair knew of Bush’s involvement with the marketing firm before last season’s national championship game against Texas.
So once again I ask. WHAT’s THE HOLDUP?
NCAA by-law 188.8.131.52 states that an athlete shall be deemed ineligible if he or she accepts benefits from agents or marketing representatives. The rule further states that student-athletes, their family or friends cannot receive benefits or loans from agents. Additionally, NCAA by-law 184.108.40.206.6 states that athletes cannot receive preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.
The rules are clear, there is obviously financial records available if Yahoo! Sports can find them, how is the NCAA unable to find sufficient evidence of wrongdoing? I am not rooting for the death penalty (though because they are not already under probation, it does not apply), but I am asking for a fair sanction, any sanction to be handed down. Why should anyone be bent up over something that happened a few years ago? Because while everyone had to win by the rules, USC reaped the benefits of an athlete being pampered and basically paid during his years at USC. He may single handedly be the reason why they won some of the games they did, Fresno State 05′, Notre Dame 05′, etc. So while everyone was running the marathon in their standard sneakers, USC took a taxi to the finish line. So you better bet that I’m pissed and want blood.
The stalling tactic employed by the NCAA is embarrassing. It seems as if everyone has seen this coming for years now, including the BCS. When both the football and basketball programs are allowed to deteriorate to the point of being investigated for 2 major NCAA violations, one has to wonder how the NCAA defines ‘lack of institutional control’. The fallout has already cost Tim Floyd his job, and 21 vacated wins, all before the NCAA even concluded their investigation.
At this point anything but dropping the hammer on the Trojan program would undermine the credibility of the NCAA organization itself.