Last Updated 27 Jan 2021

Reggie Bush Scandal

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Reggie Bush: Is He to Blame for USC’s Sanctions? “What happened to the days young children could look up to their sports heroes with pride and think that they someday would want to be just like them? ”, (Finnegan 4). This question is now being asked more often than ever. The sports stars we look up to and admire are surrounded by talks of cheating. One prime example of this happening is the case of Reggie Bush. Reggie Bush was a running back at the University of Southern California. At USC, he acquired many awards and he broke many records.

Bush, along with Coach Pete Carroll, led USC to the top of the college football world (Gray 3). On January 4, 2005, USC defeated Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship 55-19. Bush accounted 149 total yards (Timeline 4). On December 11, 2005, Bush won the Heisman Trophy. He received the second most first-place votes in the award’s history, second behind OJ Simpson (Timeline 18). On January 4, 2006, Bush and USC lost to Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns 41-38 in the BCS National Championship game.

Bush, however, accounted for 279 total yards and one touchdown (Timeline 21). Bush is alleged to have taken money and illegal benefits from multiple sources during his USC career. These allegations were viewed by the NCAA and were determined to be true. Therefore, USC encountered many penalties, which were considered by many too harsh. The NCAA says that they wanted to make an example of Bush and USC. Reggie Bush is not to blame for the allegations against him and, as a result, the sanctions against USC.

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Instead, his step-father, LaMar Griffin, is at fault in this situation. Griffin abused Reggie Bush’s future potential in order to gain illegal benefits. Bush was used as a scape-goat by Griffin and is now being falsely punished. Griffin should incur all of these punishments, not Bush. However, the real damage to Bush is his loss of proper standing in society’s view, which cannot be fully recovered even if he is found innocent. A popular topic of conversation in college sports is whether college athletes should be paid to play or not.

College athletes are considered student-athletes. This means that their first duty in college is to be a student, then to be an athlete. Student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than any other general student body group. They get to enjoy levels of engagement in academics and the community, as well as their athletics. After they are done with college, many athletes claimed to have positive feelings about their overall athletic and academic experiences in college (Why 3). There is a group of people that believe student-athletes should be paid to play.

They say that the student-athletes generate income for the university and should be compensated for their efforts. The other group thinks that student-athletes should not be paid. They say that intercollegiate sports include many different sports. And of those sports, the expenses will outweigh the revenue (with the exception of some larger Division-1 schools) (Why 4). The pro-payment to collegiate athletes group says that they should eliminate the non-revenue sports from the equation. Then the college should pay the athletes that play the sports that make the college money.

Of these programs, 30% of Division-1 football programs and 26% of Division-1 basketball programs actually make the college money (Why 5). This makes the argument for the payment of collegiate student-athletes very hard to agree with. There is not enough revenue to give the players proper payment. And besides, they are called student-athletes for a reason. College sports include a group of people that help to support the programs of the college. Each program has its own group, which is called a booster club.

The members of the clubs, called boosters, help raise or donate money for the programs. A booster has made financial contributions to the booster club or the athletics program in general. They are involved in providing benefits to prospects or enrolled student-athletes. They are also involved in promoting the university. For example, the can purchase season tickets. The rule about being a booster is that once you are a booster, you will always be considered a booster (Razorback 1). There are things that a booster can and cannot do.

A booster can speak to a prospect via phone only if the prospect initiates the call and the call is not for recruiting purposes. A booster can attend high school and junior college athletic events. Boosters are allowed to discuss summer employment arrangements with a prospect after he has signed a national letter of intent. Also, it is proper to attend a public event where the prospect is in attendance (as long as no attempts to recruit the prospect are made). They can send newspaper articles or other information to about prospects (that would be of interest) to the university’s athletic department.

They are also able to engage in normal activities with prospects and their parents if they are family friends (once again, as long as no attempts to recruit the prospect are made (Razorback 3). There are also many things a booster cannot do. They cannot provide a student-athlete any benefits or special arrangements, provide room or board or transportation during the summer if that student-athlete (or their family and friends) still has eligibility, or expend funds to entertain student-athletes (or their family or friends).

A booster is unable to use an enrolled student-athlete to advertise a commercial good or service, use an enrolled student-athlete to promote a good cause (unless okayed by the Compliance Office), provide any payment or loan of an automobile, or provide awards or gifts to the student-athlete (or his family or friends) for his athletic performance, unless it has been approved by the athletic department and it meets NCAA award requirements (Razorback 2). The Reggie Bush scandal led to many sanctions against his college, the University of Southern California.

The sanctions that went directly against Bush were that he must be disassociated from USC athletics and all of the statistics acquired by Bush in games where the NCAA deemed Bush ineligible due to rules violations were vacated. USC also inherited sanctions due to this scandal. They are banned from postseason play after the 2010 and 2011 seasons, lose 30 total scholarships over the 2011-2013 seasons, and they are on four years of probation with the NCAA.

Also, all of USC’s victories from December of 2004 until the end of the 2005 season (including USC’s National Championship win over Oklahoma) and must vacate all titles, trophies, and banners won during the games where Bush was deemed ineligible by the NCAA (Robinson and Cole 2). The one thing that the NCAA has no control over through their sanctions is the BCS bowl games or in the Heisman voting. The NCAA has no jurisdiction over the 2004 BCS trophy or Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy. The decisions to remove these trophies are up to the BCS and the Heisman Trust, respectively (Robinson and Cole 4).

The NCAA has forced a school to vacate a national championship seven times, although none of those times were in major sports (Wetzel, “BCS” 2). “The fear has always been that by vacating a national championship, the NCAA would be telling the American public that the season it just witnessed was a fraud. But the same thing applies when clear standards aren’t held, when the kids who didn’t take are played a fool”, Dan Wetzel writes (Wetzel, “Take” 2). This quote speaks truth, in that the NCAA not only has a responsibility to pleasing its fans, but also to keeping the game fair for all. New Era, a sports agency ounded with the goal of building clientele around Reggie Bush, was created on November 23, 2005 (Timeline 15). The idea of New Era Sports was allegedly thought up by LaMar Griffin, Bush’s stepfather. In September of 2004, Griffin allegedly approached Lloyd Lake about creating the agency (Timeline 1). A month later, Griffin and Lake approach Michael Michaels, a member of the Sycuan Indian tribe, about creating New Era Sports and Entertainment (Timeline 2). Now that Lake and Michaels had agreed to make this agency with Griffin, the three decided to bring the idea to the Sycuan Indian tribe, to form a partnership with them in New Era.

The Sycuan Indian tribe denies the offer, however, and the group is left to form this agency on their own (Timeline 13). The scandal between Bush and New Era would soon begin. There are many occurrences that make Bush look guilty. On March 4, 2005, Bush went to Marshall Faulk’s (St. Louis Rams’ running back) birthday party in San Diego. Bush stayed in a suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt for two days. The expenses of $1574. 86 were covered using Michaels’ credit card (Timeline 5). Six days later, Bush stayed at the Venetian Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for two days. The cost was $623. 3, which was all paid for on Michaels’ credit card (Timeline 6). In the spring of 2005, New Era gave Bush almost $13000 to purchase a black-on-black 1996 Chevy Impala SS in Los Angeles (Timeline 9). During September of 2005, Lake and Michaels visited Bush in the USC locker room after a football game. This would be the first of at least two locker room visits by New Era (Timeline 11). All of this information points to Reggie Bush as being guilty. However, there are also things that make Bush seem innocent. Bush’s stepfather, LaMar Griffin, went out and made New Era to be centralized around Bush.

New Era, which is alleged to have given up to one hundred thousand dollars in cash and girts to bush and his family illegally (Key 2). When the relationship between Bush and New Era ended in December of 2005, New Era fizzled out (Timeline 19). Both Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels are suing the Bush family for the benefits and for the firm’s failure (Key 3). In November of 2004, the Griffins used Bush’s future signing with the firm as leverage to gain illegal benefits. They were able to have Michaels pay off twenty-eight thousand dollars in debt for the Griffins (Timeline 3).

These facts are leading to LaMar Griffin abusing his stepson’s talent and value to gain these illegal benefits. It makes Bush look like the victim, not the culprit. On March 29, 2005, Michael Michaels purchased a beautiful three thousand and two square foot home in Spring Valley, California, about thirteen miles east of San Diego. It cost Michaels seven hundred and fifty-seven thousand dollars (Timeline 7). The home was located at the corner of Apple Street and Luther Avenue. It was built in the late 2004’s and early 2005’s (Robinson 2).

In April of 2005, Bush’s family was having financial troubles with their residence. Michaels allowed them to move into the Spring Valley home he had purchased just a month earlier (Timeline 8). After a few months, Bush’s family is unable to keep up on their payments for the home. They tell Michaels that they will pay using their share of the profits New Era will make once Bush declares for the NFL Draft and is able to sign with the firm (Timeline 10). Finally, almost a whole year after they moved in, Bush’s family received an eviction notice from New Era, requiring them to leave the home (Timeline 27).

Information that linked the Spring Valley home to Michael Michaels began to arise. On April 20, 2006, Denise Griffin, Bush’s mother, was approached about this connection, but she refused to comment. Not even twenty-four hours later, the Griffins abruptly move out and take with them twelve thousand dollars in home furnishings provided by Michaels. The University of Southern California then asked the Pac-10 to investigate the Spring Valley home and its ties to Bush and New Era (Timeline 29). After this scandal, it seemed Bush was definitely guilty, but Bush did not receive any benefits from the Spring Valley home.

The Griffins received all of the illegal benefits which make it seem like Bush is not at fault in this particular situation. Soon after, Bush would begin his career in the NFL. On January 12, 2006, Reggie Bush declared for the NFL Draft (Timeline 22). Later that month, Bush hired Mike Ornstein to be his marketing representative and Joel Segal to negotiate his NFL contract (Timeline 23). On April 24, 2006, the NCAA joined the investigation of Reggie Bush and New Era. Later that day, Houston Texans general manager Charles Casserly called Bush and left him a voicemail.

Casserly asked for Bush to explain the Spring Valley home and its ties to him, his family, and New Era (Timeline 30). The next day, Casserly calls Bush again. Bush answered the phone, but was about to get onto a plane so he could not continue the conversation further. Bush says he will call Casserly when he arrives in North Carolina (Timeline 31). A day later, Bush called Casserly back, but did not get into specifics about the Spring Valley home. Bush only tells Casserly, “It will be taken care of in a couple of days”, (Timeline 32). David Cornwell, Bush’s attorney, turns over evidence of an extortion plot by New Era against Reggie Bush.

Bush continued to deny knowledge of any ties between the Spring Valley home, his family, and New Era. Also on April 28, 2006, The Houston Texans pass on Bush with the number one overall draft pick. Instead, they choose defensive end Marion Williams from North Carolina State. Casserly says that Bush’s refusal to discuss the Spring Valley home controversy did play a role in their decision to not select him in the NFL Draft (Timeline 33). Mike Ornstein, who was hired in January of 2006 by Bush to be his marketing representative, was involved in yet another scandal surrounding Reggie Bush (Timeline 23).

The relationship between Bush and Ornstein began in the summer of 2005 when Bush was an intern for Ornstein as a Reebok consultant (Timeline 10). Ornstein is alleged to have also given Bush illegal benefits (Key 6). The scandal began when Ornstein started working for clients and not giving CWC Sports, where he was employed, a cut. The head of CWC Sports, Lee Pfiefer, is in the midst of suing Ornstein for breach of contract of the partnership in CWC Sports. He is attempting to get half of the profits Ornstein gained form the stolen clientele, including Reggie Bush (Key 9).

James Fritz, another employee of CWC Sports, used his credit card to pay for the travel of Bush’s family to Oakland. He still works for Ornstein and refuses to comment on the allegations against him and Ornstein (Key 10). Once Ornstein became an adviser to the Bush family in interviewing prospective agents, the scandal started to be seen by the media (Timeline 14). On December 29, 2005, Ornstein requested a $500000 advance on a memorabilia contract that New Jersey sports memorabilia dealer Bob DeMartino had proposed for Bush (Timeline 20).

Most of this information leads one to believe Bush is guilty. However, it is not recognized that Bush still has not received any direct benefits form Ornstein. All of the benefits went to the Griffins. The main argument that defends Reggie Bush has to deal with his stepfather, LaMar Griffin. LaMar is alleged to have started the idea to make the firm New Era Sports and Entertainment, and to have it centralized around Bush. He is also alleged to have used Bush’s future potential to gain illegal benefits. The courts, however, have left the issue of whether the llegations against him are true and they are targeting all of the lawsuits against the entire Bush family, including LaMar Griffin and Reggie Bush (Key 5).

On December 10, 2005, Mike Ornstein bought suits for LaMar Griffin and Reggie Bush’s brother. Ornstein also buys Denise Griffin, Bush’s mother, a makeover and purchases a limo for the three of them (Timeline 16). The most incriminating piece of evidence against LaMar Griffin was discovered on December 12, 2005. LaMar Griffin showed a New Era brochure to a reporter form the San Diego Union-Tribune. “New Era is a new company opening- they sent me a brochure, they’re here in San Diego! claimed Griffin (Timeline 17). LaMar Griffin promoted New Era and did not say that he had any connections with the firm. In fact, he acts surprised by the firm’s opening and encourages all to invest in it. He is attempting to fool the American public into funding a firm that he uses to gain benefits by abusing his stepson’s future potential. This makes LaMar Griffin the primary suspect in the Reggie Bush scandals, instead of Reggie Bush himself. Reggie Bush has endured many allegations and lawsuits against him. Through all of these, however, he has remained positive and strong.

He continues, to this day, to deny all of the allegations against him (Key 1). Bush’s attorney, David Cornwell, still represents Bush and also claims that Bush was never involved in any of these allegations (Key 8). In early February of 2006, Bush attempted to settle with Michael Michaels. Cornwell, on behalf of Bush, offered Michaels a $100000 settlement. Michaels, though, decides to deny the settlement and pursue the case against Bush further (Timeline 25). On February 13, 2006, as a rebuttal to Bush’s settlement offer, Michael Michaels offers Bush a settlement.

Brian Watkins, on behalf of Michaels, offers Bush a $3200000 settlement (Timeline 26). Reggie Bush is not to blame for the allegations against him and, as a result, the sanctions against USC. Instead, his step-father, LaMar Griffin, is at fault in this situation. Griffin abused Reggie Bush’s future potential in order to gain illegal benefits. Bush was used as a scape-goat by Griffin and is now being falsely punished. Griffin should incur all of these punishments, not Bush. However, the real damage to Bush is his loss of proper standing in society’s view, which cannot be fully recovered even if he is found innocent.

In conclusion, Reggie Bush is not at fault in the scandal surrounding him. LaMar Griffin used Bush for his own selfish purposes and is letting Bush take the fall for it. Bush may be able to prove that he is innocent of these crimes. He may be able to not incur these large punishments for such heinous crimes. One thing he cannot change, though, is how the American public now vies him. At one time, Reggie Bush was a household name. He was known for his blazing speed and electrifying kick returns. Now, Reggie Bush is still a household name, but not for the same reasons.

Now his name is covered in scandal and controversy. He may never be able to return to being on the public’s good side. That, out of anything, is the biggest shame: that a college student-athlete’s own family would use them for selfish gain that could jeopardize his career. Bush, however, is on his way to recovering his image. He was quoted to say about the Heisman Trophy, “Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name. It is for these reasons that I have made the difficult decision to forfeit my title as Heisman winner of 2005” (Lamport-Stokes 3).

Some say that this statement proves Bush is guilty and that he would rather turn himself in than get caught. But another way to look at this is that Reggie Bush has the utmost respect for the Heisman Trophy and all it represents. He would rather forfeit his title than let allegations against him blemish the good name of the award. In that sense, he is the complete opposite of LaMar Griffin, who used Bush.

References

  1. Finnegan, Lauren. “Reggie Bush Scandal: By Far Not the First or Last in Sports- Yahoo! News. ” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News- Yahoo! News. 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 9 Sept. 2010. <http://news. yahoo. com/s/ac/20100908/cm_ac/6748812_reggie_bush_scandal_by_far_not_the_first_or_last_in_ sports>. Gray, Madison.
  2. “USC Trojans Get Black Eye Over Reggie Bush Scandal- TIME NewsFeed. ” TIME NewsFeed- Breaking News and Updates. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://newsfeed. time. com/2010/06/10/usc-trojans-get-black-eye-over-reggie-bush-scandal/>.
  3. “The Key Figures- Reggie Bush Investigation- Yahoo! Sports. ” College Sports- Rivals. com. 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://rivals. yahoo. com/ncaa/football/news? slug=ys-bush_cast>.
  4. Lamport-Stokes, Mark. Reggie Bush to Forfeit Heisman Trophy- Yahoo! News. ” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News- Yahoo! News. Ed. Justin Palmer. 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://news. yahoo. com/s/nm/us_nfl_bush_heisman>.
  5. “Razorback Foundation/ Booster Guide to NCAA Rules. ” Razorback Foundation/ Main Page. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://www. razorbackfoundation. com/ncaa. htm>.
  6. Robinson, Charles and Jason Cole. “USC Hit Hard by NCAA Sanctions- College Football- Rivals. com. ” College Sports- Rivals. com. 10 June 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://rivals. yahoo. om/ncaa/football/news? slug=ys-uscpenalties061010>.
  7. Works Cited Robinson, Charles. “Yahoo! Sports Report: Reggie Bush’s Family Home- Yahoo! Sports. ” Yahoo! Sports- Sports News, Scores, Rumors, Fantasy Games, and More. 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://sports. yahoo. com/nfl/news? slug=cr-bush042306>.
  8. “The Timeline- Reggie Bush Investigation- Yahoo! Sports. ” College Sports: Rivals. com. 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://rivals. yahoo. com/ncaa/football/news? slug=ys-bush_timeline>.
  9. Wetzel, Dan. “BCS Officials: Ineligible Bush Could Dethrone USC- College Football- Rivals. om” College Sports: Rivals. com. 28 Apr. 2006. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://rivals. yahoo. com/ncaa/football/news? slug=dw-bush042806>. Wetzel, Dan.
  10. “Take Back the Title- Reggie Bush Investigation- Yahoo! Sports. ” College Sports: Rivals. com. 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://rivals. yahoo. com/ncaa/football/news? slug=dw-bush_usc>.
  11. “Why Student-Athletes Are Not Paid to Play- NCAA. org. ” Public Home Page- NCAA. org. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://www. ncaa. org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/issues/why student-athletes are not paid to play>.

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