Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Jock Sniffers Vaporized USC's 2005 Season and Reggie Bush's Heisman

By Evan Weiner

September 14, 2010


(New York, N. Y.) -- Dear National Collegiate Athletic Association or should this be sent to the jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts of big time college athletic programs? If the University of Southern California and Reggie Bush did not exist in 2005 because Reggie Bush received "improper benefits" while he matriculated in the Los Angeles school --- and played football for now is a ghost team in NCAA record books ---- why aren't you refunding money you took partially based on Bush and his USC teammates prowess to over-the-air and cable television networks, ticket holders to USC games, marketing partners and radio networks who bought your product?

While we are at it, since the 2005 season was vaporized, why shouldn't cable TV subscribers get a refund too for helping to finance college sports programs, particularly the 92 or so percent of the cable TV universe that pays for sports programming as part of the :"basic enhanced" experience and never watches a sports event.

To the people who run USC (and the NCAA), how about a refund on all of those Reggie Bush shirts that you marketed and sold to people. It is funny that schools sell shirts of the team's most popular players yet a lot of those players don't have the means to buy their own shirt. They also don't see a cent from the sales of the shirts.

The NCAA has found fraud based on their rules --- we give the player a scholarship in exchange that allows the player to basically be a pro in training and a school fundraiser --- and the NCAA has penalized the University of Southern California by stripping the school of a title that was won fairly on the gridiron and punishing Bush who is long gone from the school by saying he was ineligible. The 2010 and future teams will be paying the price as USC has been stripped of a number of scholarships.

Bush has given up his Heisman Trophy that he won in 2005. Bush has been vaporized. He and his Trojans teammates don't exist in the paper and viral world anymore. At least according to the jock-sniffers who run the NCAA. So if that's the case, then the NCAA should be returning money to everyone because the august college board has decreed that some sort of fraud has taken place.

But the real crime is that the NCAA is punishing people for violating their rules and yet will not return any money to the victims of the fraud---paying customers, paying marketing partners and television networks. The public according to the NCAA was duped by Bush who took money from what can be best described as friends of the program and thus all of USC's accomplishments of that year have been wiped out.

The jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors, provosts through their proxy, the NCAA, can say all they want about maintaining the integrity of college sports. The integrity of college sports has never existed. It’s an illusion. Big time college sports is a business. The football and basketball programs are cash cows and colleges will attempt to bend every rule in the book to field a good team.

The jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts think having strong teams build campus spirit and make alums feel good about the school. They think the alums will become boosters and pump money into the schools. There is a phalanx of financial support that goes into college sports starting with Congress giving big time sports schools a tax exemption. The networks, Sumner Redstone's CBS, Disney's ESPN, General Electric's NBCUniversal, Ruppert Murdoch's FOX, Turner Sports, the regional sports cable TV networks and all of the broadband components that come with the media lords give money. There are the marketing partners and advertisers including a very involved gaggle of sneaker companies, the boosters and the slums---who presumably buy the luxury boxes and the club seats and leave their cars in special parking areas and dine in stadium and/or arena eateries, everyday fans, and the college kids who are given a morsel and able to buy tickets at a discount rate.

All of those constituencies make the college sports industry work. The players are merely a cog in the machine who get scholarships that allow them to take classes and possibly get educated but the football and basketball players' main concerns are playing for good old fill-in-the-blank college or university. The Ivy League schools allegedly de-emphasize sports and don't give scholarships. But they do give grant-in-aid and if you are a player at Harvard or Yale, you have a great rolodex as the schools of the Ivy League give players the phone numbers of important and not so important alums.

Reggie Bush was supposed to just be a cog. He was supposed to play by the rules approved by the real powers of college sports, the jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts. He was supposed to be a "student-athlete" which was a term invented by college powers in the 1950's to shield colleges from paying workman's compensation in the event a player got injured. Bush and his colleagues are supposed to not receive any more than $2,000 a year for working an outside job. A rule designed to protect schools not players from a player getting a highly paid do-nothing job from an important alum--the rule theoretically evens the playing field as some schools have rather wealthy benefactors while others don't.

Bush and his fellow players are expected to participate in voluntary workouts and perform while their likenesses are sold by the NCAA to video game producers for profit and their uniforms are also sold for profit to adoring fans. The players don't see a dime from the video games. Their names are not used but their likeness is used and there is a court case taking place to decide whether the players are entitled to video game money.

Bush broke the NCAA rules and he gave up his Heisman. It would be rather interesting to see someone launch a class action suit against the NCAA for selling a product that was fraudulent in the world of the NCAA. A world that is stacked against the student-athlete. But the NCAA will escape unscathed. The 2005 season for USC and Bush never existed. That is the determination of the jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors and provosts who have rigged up a system with a one sided contract that favors schools and gives players little rights.

The players should be grateful that they get scholarships and a chance at an education.

People who watched Bush and USC know that there were games on the field but in the holier than thou bizarro world of college sports, those games never existed yet the NCAA cashed in and made money off of Bush and USC. Bush's exploits are on tape and unless the NCAA gets a court order that destroys the tapes of Bush's 2005 season to destroy all evidence that Bush played, the jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors and provosts are as fraudulent as they claim Bush is.

If the public was hoodwinked as the jock-sniffers claim, then the people who put up money for the entertainment (and that is what college sports really is) are due damages for investing in a fraud.

Evan Weiner is an award winning journalist, TV-radio commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." He can be reached at evanjweiner@yahoo.com

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