If not for the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations, Auburn might be vacating some victories from one of its few decent eras of basketball.
Charles Barkley was discussing Reggie Bush's decision to return the Heisman Trophy during an interview with Dan Patrick on Friday morning when the conversation turned to his own college career. The always outspoken former Auburn star admitted that he too received money from agents during college in the 1980s, though Barkley described it as "chump change" that he paid back once he signed his first NBA contract.
"If a guy wants to borrow money from an agent because he's poor, what is wrong with that?" Barkley said. "Nobody can tell me what is wrong with that. I got money from agents when I was in college and I went in the '80s. Most of the players I know borrowed money from agents. The colleges don't give us anything. If they give us a pair of sneakers, they get in trouble. Why can't an agent lend me some money and I'll pay him back when I graduate?"
Barkley said the agents who pay potential future clients are "well known" in hoops circles because "they've been giving money to college kids for years." Ironically, however, the only agent who didn't pay Barkley while he was at Auburn ended up being the one that initially landed him as a client.
The revelations from Barkley aren't exactly surprising considering the SEC's reputation was even less pristine when he played than it is today, and the former Auburn star has hinted that he was on the take in the past. Still, at a time when the NCAA is trying to crack down on rogue agents and restore the notion of amateurism to college sports, you can be certain that folks at Auburn and other schools probably weren't thrilled with Barkley's message.
As for Barkley's opinion on the Bush case, it meshes with the former NBA star's belief that top college athletes should both receive a stipend from their universities and be allowed to accept money from prospective agents.
"I'm disappointed Reggie is giving the Heisman back because these colleges are making so much money off these kids," Barkley said. "Reggie made one mistake. He should have paid those [agents] back and this whole thing never would have happened."
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- Charles Barkley
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