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Reggie Bush worried paying college athletes could 'destroy some people'

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Reggie Bush has some concerns about the NCAA’s impending name, image and likeness legislation.

After pushing back on the issue for years, the NCAA — after receiving significant political pressure — is relenting and will allow its athletes to be compensated for the use of their NIL. The money would come from things like endorsement deals or social media advertisements and cannot include an athlete’s college and conference branding or logo.

Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy as a star running back at USC before an 11-year NFL career, said in an interview with Playboy that getting money at that young of an age is “going to destroy some people” if they don’t have the proper guidance in their corner.

“Guidance is the one thing that young athletes coming through the college system miss on so much. I missed on it,” Bush said. “They’re about to start paying college athletes. This is something that has never been experienced before, and it’s going to destroy some people if their foundation is not in the right place.”

Former Southern California player Reggie Bush rehearses for a pregame show, at an NCAA college football game between Southern California and Utah on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Former USC star Reggie Bush now works as a football analyst for Fox following a lengthy NFL career. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Bush was a massive star during his time at USC, twice earning All-America honors and a Heisman Trophy while helping the Trojans win back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004. However, Bush later had to forfeit his Heisman after the NCAA concluded he and his family received impermissible benefits from agents during his college career.

Had Bush come along in the upcoming NIL era, it’s safe to say his earning opportunities would have been plentiful — especially playing in a city like Los Angeles where the Trojans were stars during their run of success playing under coach Pete Carroll.

Bush, though, is a bit leery about some of the things that could come with endorsement opportunities. Specifically, he wants college athletes to be properly educated from a financial perspective. He knows he did not have that knowledge in his back pocket when he was younger and is worried that young athletes could become “open targets” susceptible to people looking to make a buck on their behalf.

From Playboy:

“The one thing I wish I had early in my career is proper financial knowledge. I hired good agents, and I hired a good team. But I allowed that good team to make decisions for me. I’m not saying I’m going bankrupt, but if I had the proper knowledge back then, some things would be different,” Bush said.

“People just assume, ‘Well, you got all this money, so you’re good.’ It’s actually the opposite. The more money you have, the more danger you’re in. Because now you’re a freaking open target for a lot of people. It’s a nasty world out there, and it’s about to get nastier. You’re going to really start to see the true colors of a lot of people, and a lot of businesses too. You’re going to see people doing some crazy stuff to make money, because our market is crashing.”

The NCAA’s Board of Governors formally expressed support for name, image and likeness legislation on April 29, agreeing that college athletes should be allowed to receive compensation for third-party endorsements “both related and separate from athletics.” Additionally, athletes would be permitted to receive payment for other opportunities “such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances.”

There are many details still to be worked out, but the NCAA’s three divisions — Division I, II and III — have been instructed to draft specific rule structures with the goal of adopting legislation in January 2021 ahead of the 2021-22 academic year.

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