It’s shakeup day at USC.
On Tuesday, USC president-elect C.L. Max Nikias announced that ex-Trojans quarterback Pat Hayden, a Rhodes Scholar, partner in a private equity firm, and television analyst for NBC, will take over as the school’s athletic director. Hayden replaces Mike Garrett, the leader of a program that was recently punished by the NCAA for possessing a “lack of institutional control.” Further, Nikias said that USC will return the 2005 Heisman Trophy won by Reggie Bush, the star running back whose dealings with professional sports marketers, while still in college, led to a two-year bowl ban for the school.
The big question now: what does Reggie do? Although Bush will never dominate in the pros like he did in college, he’s still a fairly popular player and an important contributor to the New Orleans Saints, the defending Super Bowl champs. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that he skirted NCAA rules by accepting lavish gifts from marketers.
Baseball’s steroid scandal offers a useful road map for tainted athletes. It always pays to come clean. Guys like Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte admitted they screwed up, and fans have pretty much forgiven them. You rarely see fans holding faux syringes when A-Rod comes to town. Suspected steroids users like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds haven’t appeared too forthright, and they’re pariahs. Mark McGwire waited way too long to apologize: his Hall of Fame chances are over.
So Reggie, just put the Heisman in the mail. It’ll be the most worthwhile stamp you’ll ever buy.