Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, file
Former USC and NFL running back Reggie Bush said in the latest episode of I AM AN ATHLETE that the NCAA launched a “sloppy” investigation into him and his family en route to the Heisman Trust that forced him to relinquish his 2005 Heisman Trophy.
Bush dominated the gridiron for USC in 2005, and in his senior year with the Trojans, he rallied for 2,218 yards and 18 touchdowns. He easily won the Heisman Trophy but had to relinquish it in 2010.
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura summarized the NCAA’s findings:
“Bush had his Heisman trophy returned after a four-year benefits investigation found that while he was a student-athlete, he and family members accepted cash, travel expenses and a home in the San Diego area where Bush’s parents rented . free for more than a year and for which they were given $10,000 to set it up.
“Sanctions from the investigation, which came in 2010, prompted Bush to distance himself from USC and included a two-year postseason ban from the school, 14 vacated victories (including the 2004 BCS national championship) and the loss of 30 scholarships. His 10-year separation period ended in June 2020.”
Bush offered his side of the story in an interview that will be published in full on Monday.
“First of all, I didn’t want to give it back. I was forced to return it… I never spoke to the Heisman Trust. We had a conference call, so they decided to take the Heisman Trophy based on a conference call and based on some information that they basically got from the NCAA.
An important part of the investigation involved a house that Bush’s parents had moved into.
Bush said his parents were evicted from a townhouse they were renting because the owners failed to pay their mortgage. Bush explained that his parents were forced to look for a new apartment and that family friends gave them an apartment as a temporary option before their next move.
“But moving into this house was the house that the NCAA plastered around the world like this was a house that was given to us as a part of me. You know, my name, picture and likeness are being sold for whatever. I put it on I don’t know what you think.
“The NCAA does not know this information at the moment. They’ve never heard this because they haven’t done their homework. It’s a sloppy investigation. Everything about the investigation was sloppy. They haven’t done their homework, they haven’t spoken to my parents, they haven’t spoken to any of our family members, anything.”
The NCAA last year instituted a name, image and likeness policy. Bush’s Heisman Trophy was in question, and the Heisman Trust said at the time it would return the trophy if the NCAA reinstated its statistics.
However, according to Yahoo Sports’ Nick Bromberg, it doesn’t seem like the NCAA will.
Bush enjoyed an 11-year NFL career after being drafted second overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 NFL draft. He won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009 and finished his career with 9,088 yards and 54 touchdowns.