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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Reggie Bush’s Heisman Return: A Symbolic Win, but NCAA Battle Looms

  • It was the Heisman Trophy Trust that decided to give the USC star his trophy back.
  • The NCAA has not commented on the move and is still being sued by Bush.
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

News of Reggie Bush getting his Heisman Trophy back Wednesday was widely celebrated across social media and sports talk shows alike. And it’s not surprising, given the general public sentiment toward college sports these days: Why should one of the greatest college football players this century continue to be exiled for taking a reported $300,000 in benefits nearly two decades ago, while today’s top stars get millions in name, image, and likeness deals for simply choosing to play at a new school?

As of Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA has stayed quiet on the matter, and it’s unclear what this move means beyond Bush and USC getting their hardware back and the retired athlete being able to take part in official ceremonies in the future. 

We asked Front Office Sports college sports reporter Amanda Christovich what she thinks it means: “The Heisman Trust’s decision to give Bush his trophy back does not represent a change of heart for the NCAA,” she says. “The Heisman Trust has previously said that it would be willing to give Bush his trophy back if the governing body reversed its own infractions decision deeming him ineligible, and deeming his records uncountable. But on Wednesday, the trust appears to have gone ahead with the decision without the NCAA’s blessing.”

What’s Next?

There are still legal matters to sort out. More from Christovich: “While the NCAA did not respond to a request for comment from FOS, a source told The Dan Patrick Show that the Heisman Trust’s decision was completely separate from the NCAA. Separately, Bush is still involved in a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA over comments made about the Heisman situation.”

Bush is the only Heisman winner to have the award retroactively taken away, so there are no similar situations for the trust and NCAA to deal with. USC welcomed Bush back to campus Wednesday, as the school’s relationship with its former player had been severely damaged due to the controversy that also saw the Trojans stripped of their 2004 BCS national championship.

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