Reggie Bush Is Going to Court to Reinstate His Heisman Trophy


Reggie Bush was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 2005 after an outstanding performance in the college football season at USC. In 2010, the then-NFL star voluntarily forfeited his Heisman after the NCAA found that Bush had received gifts from a sports marketing agent while at USC. The school’s decade-long disassociation from the player ended in 2020, and since then, he’s been working hard to get his 2005 victory reinstated. 

Now, Bush is taking his case to the courtroom. According to The Los Angeles Times, the ex-USC player is filing a defamation lawsuit against college sports’ governing body. It comes two years after the NCAA implemented new rules around college players’ name, image, and likeness, allowing them to profit off their fame for the first time. However, the NCAA claims Bush was involved in a pay-for-play scheme, thereby rendering him ineligible to have his Heisman reinstated even under the new standards. 

Bush’s attorneys cited those claims in the suit. “The lawsuit is based on the NCAA maliciously attacking his character through a completely false and highly offensive statement that was widely reported in the media and substantially and irreparably damaged his reputation,” lawyers Levi G. McCathern and Ty M. Sheaks said in a statement. “The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any ‘pay-for-play arrangement’ which never occurred.”

Related: Reggie Bush Makes a Workout Video

The NCAA was clear about its new rules—and how they pertained to violators like Bush—when they were enacted in 2021. The organization was frank in its answer: Bush’s records will remain wiped and his 2005 Heisman win nullified because of the alleged improper nature of the business relationship. 

“Although college athletes can now receive benefits from their names, images and likenesses through activities like endorsements and appearances, NCAA rules still do not permit pay-for-play-type arrangements,” an NCAA spokesperson told The LA Times in 2021. “Bush’s 2005 season records remain vacated by the NCAA and, as a result, under the rule set forth by the Heisman Trust and stated on the Heisman Ballot, he is not eligible to be awarded the 2005 Heisman Memorial Trophy.”

The fight will play out in court and it remains to be seen if Bush will ever get his trophy back. But he’s not alone out there; one USC booster has even put up billboards around LA calling on the NCAA to change its mind.  

Bush remains the first and only player in history to surrender his Heisman Trophy. O.J. Simpson‘s win, meanwhile, remains intact. 

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