Reggie Bush: Relaxed NIL rules would have been ‘life changing’ during his time at USC

USC's Reggie Bush during a game against Fresno State in November 2005.
USC’s Reggie Bush looks on from the bench during a game against Fresno State in November 2005.
(Kim D. Johnson / Associated Press)

Reggie Bush was a star among stars at USC.

It’s safe to say college for the Heisman Trophy-winning running back and several of his teammates would have been very different had the NCAA relaxed its rules on athletes benefiting from the use of their names, images and likenesses, a move the organization is expected to make in the near future.

“It wouldn’t have been just me,” Bush told the Athletic in an interview published Sunday. “We had [Matt] Leinart, LenDale [White] and so many great players on our team who were so big at the college level that probably could’ve made hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would’ve been life-changing not only for them but also for their families.

“Their families are struggling while the universities are making money off them. Most of their families are barely making it. This game for many of them is about a better way a lot of life. For me, losing a game or even a play was about the feeling that I was going one step closer to being broke again.”


While the Trojans were winning championships and hanging out with celebrities, Bush told the Athletic, he often wasn’t able to afford basic items like food and gas.

The NCAA later determined that Bush received improper benefits while playing for USC. The organization placed severe sanctions on the university, which had to disassociate itself with one of its most celebrated athletes.

Now the NCAA is expected to adopt new rules by January 2021 that would allow college athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements, social media influencing and personal appearances such as autograph signings.

None of that will change what Bush went through during and after his time with the Trojans. And although he’s “still not over” the fact that others involved with USC athletics had to suffer because of him, Bush told the Athletic he was glad future athletes would benefit from his experiences.

“I’m good with what happened to me because it had to happen to me so we could get to this point,” said Bush, who is a college football analyst for Fox Sports. “Kids will no longer be told they can’t make money off their names while their school makes millions off of them. Thousands of kids now will be able to make money off their name and likeness, be able to support their families that need help, and have a little extra to be able to even put good healthy food on the table and pay bills.”