Charles Barkley Says Former USC RB Reggie Bush Did Not Do Anything Wrong

Bill NCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2010

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12:  Nba Announcer and former NBA player Charles Barkley looks on during the game between the Sophomore team and the Rookie team during the second half of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center on February 12, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Charles Barkley appeared on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday and discussed Reggie Bush’s decision to return the Heisman Trophy he received while at the University of Southern California in 2005. 

Barkley said that he himself took money from agents during college at Auburn, and most of the players he knew borrowed money from agents. 

He said these agents are well known and they have been giving college athletes money for 30 years.

Barkley said, “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 some money, and I’ll pay him back when I graduate?” 

Barkley believes that top college athletes should be able to borrow money from agents and receive a stipend because colleges (and the NCAA) make so much money from them.

However, there are Title IX implications which would make this difficult.  A more practical solution is addressed in “Eight Solutions to Fix the NCAA and Improve College Football” (see Solution No.1).

He said the only mistake Reggie Bush made was not paying back the agents.  If he had done that, nothing would have happened. 

Barkley paid back the agents that he received money from after he got to the NBA.

Lloyd Lake, Bush’s "sports agent" and family friend, has said he would not have gone public if Reggie had paid him back.

You can listen to Barkley’s interview in the first hour of the Dan Patrick Show here

NCAA Senior Writer Lonnie White wrote about the long-standing problem with agents in college sports in “Solution Long Overdue for Problem of Agents and College Sports.”  He personally experienced it from multiple agents in 1986 while playing college football.

He said, “Without getting too deep, the main reason why athletes get caught up accepting illegal benefits is because they feel exploited. With the NCAA generating more money than ever, skillful agents find it easy to lure athletes with cash, gifts, and other perks.”

“For the NCAA to really be taken seriously, it needs to show consistency. Discipline for having agents provide illegal benefits should be the same at every school. It should not matter if a program turns itself in or not.

"But that's too much work. It's much easier for the NCAA to cut deals than to have every school go the distance fighting accusations like USC did.

"Besides, the NCAA knows better than anyone that players receiving illegal benefits have been a factor at nearly every successful football program for decades.  It's always been a matter of putting in the effort to find out."

The NCAA has done nothing to work with the NFL to control sports agents and marketers.  Yet, the NCAA selectively punishes athletes and colleges when agent payments become public.

Maybe the real problem is the NCAA.

P.S. ESPN reported that former sports agent, Josh Luchs, told Sports Illustrated he paid college football players early in his career, and several of them confirmed it to the magazine.  In the October 18, 2010, edition, Luchs said he paid more than 30 players from many major college teams during 1990 to 1996. Many  didn't end up signing with him.