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NCAA rule changes not an instant reinstatement of Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman win, records

USC's Reggie Bush lost his 2005 Heisman Trophy after an NCAA investigation found he and his...
USC's Reggie Bush lost his 2005 Heisman Trophy after an NCAA investigation found he and his family were given impermissible gifts that year. But could the NCAA's recent eligibility changes mean Bush will get his trophy and records back?
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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(WSFA) - Reggie Bush has been a cautionary tale to college athletes for more than a decade. You can achieve greatness on the football field, but you can’t benefit from it financially.

Bush’s remarkable 2005 season with the University of Southern California was capped when the running back earned the prestigious Heisman Trophy, arguably college football’s crowning trophy.

But it all came crashing down following an investigation by the NCAA that found Bush and his family were given impermissible gifts while he was a USC athlete.

Bush, along with the entire USC football team, saw their playing records for 2005 stripped away, and in 2010, five years after earning it, Bush forfeited the title of Heisman Trophy Winner.

Both he and USC returned the trophies they held to the Heisman Trust, which in turn vacated the 2005 award.

But could Bush one day find himself welcomed back into the Heisman family with the likes of Steve Spurrier, Bo Jackson and the newest member, Devonta Smith?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, struck at the heart of the NCAA’s eligibility rules that brought down Bush, stating the NCAA can’t limit education-related benefits that colleges can offer their student-athletes.

Within days, the NCAA Board of Directors cleared the way for more than a half-million student-athletes to begin making money off their work and likenesses without fear of putting their eligibility status at risk.

But that doesn’t automatically mean Bush’s title and trophy will be retroactively restored, as much as he would like.

“Well well well….look what we have here,” Bush first tweeted on June 30 about the developments.

Then came his statement, confirming that for some time he’s been trying to get his trophy and records reinstated, but he says neither the NCAA or the Heisman Trust has been cooperative.

On Friday, the Heisman Trust broke its silence, but it wasn’t to announce any reinstatement, at least not yet.

“The Heisman Trust believes the recent decision by the NCAA to allow student athletes the ability to control their name, image and likeness is a positive step in the right direction,” the organization stated, adding that it “supports any legislation that will protect and benefit all student athletes.”

But the Trust cited the ballot rules that were in effect when votes were cast for Bush in 2005, which state:

“In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award must be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete.”

In other words, nothing has changed regarding Bush’s eligibilty with the Heisman Trust. “[He] is not eligible to be awarded the 2005 Heisman Memorial Trophy.”

But that’s still not the end of the debate, as the Heisman Trust concluded: “Should the NCAA reinstate Bush’s 2005 status, the Heisman Trust looks forward to welcoming him back to the Heisman family.”

The next move is all in the hands of the NCAA, and it has yet to make a public statement on one of its most public actions in the last quarter century.

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