New Orleans hero and legendary former halfback Reggie Bush received a bit of welcome news recently. His period in the wilderness has come to an end. After 10 years of NCAA-required "disassociation" between the star athlete and the University of Southern California (USC), the college football powerhouse where Bush kicked off his celebrated career, the university has opted to lift its ban on him, reported ESPN.
It's hard to believe that it's already been a decade since Bush's fall from grace. New Orleanians will remember the sordid episode with especial chagrin, since the NCAA's crackdown came at a time when the running back's star was at its brightest in the Crescent City. He'd just helped lead the Saints to their memorable 2009 Super Bowl triumph, the victory that symbolized, for so many, the city's redemption in the traumatic wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The college football administration conducted an extensive investigation into extra-benefits programs run beneath-the-table by some of Division One's most prestigious dynasties. The cheating probe found USC guilty of compensating Reggie Bush for his work at the school, the sort of pay-for-play that the NCAA strictly prohibits.
They wiped the record books clean of USC's accolades during the time of Bush's attendance and stripped him of his personal awards, including a 2005 Heisman Trophy, one of the most coveted awards in all of sports. In the final analysis, their punishment went even further than that. The NCAA also banned USC from advancing to postseason competition for two years and stripped the school of 30 scholarships it might otherwise have awarded to athletes.
Since the ban's lift, Bush has already made his prodigal
return to the Coliseum, the stadium where USC's football team plays in front of
tens of thousands of fans about half-a-dozen times a year. Both Bush and the
university's athletic director have expressed their relief and happiness
concerning the reconciliation.