Should Reggie Bush Be Forced To Talk?
NCAA investigators at left.
Michael Silver at SI has an interesting proposal for the NCAA to deal with alleged rules violators who are recalcitrant when NCAA investigators come calling: punish first, ask questions later. In sum:
If Reggie Bush remains uncooperative -- and last month, while visiting a Trojans football practice, Reggie Bush brazenly told the Los Angeles Times that if he were called by NCAA investigators, "I wouldn't answer the phone" -- here's what should happen: His charmed existence as USC football star emeritus should be instantly and mercilessly revoked.
No more visits to practice or the Coliseum sidelines, or anywhere else on campus. No more inclusion in the record books or media guides or promotional materials like football-highlights DVDs. Unless and until Reggie Bush agrees to an interview with NCAA investigators, he ceases to exist in the annals of school or NCAA lore.
Silver bases this on the various breathalyzer laws around the country that stipulate anyone refusing to be tested will lose their license. Those laws are framed as the revocation of a privilege bestowed by the state and not criminal proceedings and have stood in court; this isn't even a governmental matter and couldn't be challenged.
However, the problems with this are many:
* It violates American ideas of due process. This is a cosmetic thing since private entities don't have to give a damn about the Constitution, but where does the line get drawn? We have Arkansas fans out there, people, and they will harass the NCAA to level punitive measures against any opponent who has the smallest whiff of impropriety.
* It assumes the NCAA even has the power to level those measures. Does anyone know if they can direct schools to excise any mention of a player against his will? In any case, Time Machine Justice (TMJ!) has been exercised many places, including my alma mater Michigan, and has no practical effect on anything. Reggie Bush still played for USC even if the NCAA doesn't say so.
* It's doubtful a bunch of TMJ penalties move Reggie Bush to say anything, especially since they don't affect him in any real way. (To be fair to Silver, he does mention this possibility.) They may hurt USC's ability to market itself in a small way but, given that his testimony would probably damage the Trojan program far more, not enough to compel him to speak.
The net effect would probably be some cosmetic changes to a media guide or some clips or something and no movement on the case. Plus a bunch of Arkansas fans with even more reason to file FOIA requests. So... no sale, even though everyone would like to know what really happened and if USC should get its organizational head caved in. Unless someone happened to be running an underground gambling ring and gets hauled in by the FBI, though, it seems that the NCAA will never act.
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