Former USC running back Reggie Bush has expressed concern over the NCAA's allowing players to be paid for their name and likeness, cautioning that it could "destroy" players who do not have the right guidance.
"Guidance is the one thing that young athletes coming through the college system miss on so much," Bush told Playboy's Ryan Gajewski (h/t ESPN). "I missed on it. 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."
Bush was part of an impermissible benefits scandal at USC that resulted in his forfeiture of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, while the Trojans were stripped of the 2004 national championship. An NCAA investigation found Bush had accepted nearly $300,000 in cash and other benefits from an agent while at USC, forcing the school to end its relationship with one of its greatest players.
The 35-year-old made $63 million during his NFL career, but he told Gajewski he wished he would have had better financial understanding at a young age:
"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. 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 announced its support of a plan that would allow athletes to profit off their name and likeness in commercials and other ventures, including endorsement contracts, in April. While the policy is far from a free-for-all—players are not allowed to use the logos or mention the schools they play for—it's a step forward that most believe has come decades too late.
It's possible players like Bush never would have had their accomplishments taken away if such rules were in place during his time at USC.