The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Hinske Huddle: Reggie Bush’s Heisman saga is only beginning with reinstatement

Former+USC+football+player+Reggie+Bush+poses+with+his+attorneys%2C+left%2C+Levi+McCathern+and+Ben+Crump%2C+right%2C+along+with+his+and+family+and+his+Heisman+trophy+during+a+news+conference+at+the+Los+Angeles+Memorial+Coliseum%2C+Thursday%2C+April%2C+25%2C+2024%2C+in+Los+Angeles.
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Former USC football player Reggie Bush poses with his attorneys, left, Levi McCathern and Ben Crump, right, along with his and family and his Heisman trophy during a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Thursday, April, 25, 2024, in Los Angeles.

The NCAA has finally given in to nationwide support for one of college football history’s greatest players’ reinstatement. In the newest chapter of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) and “amateurism” in collegiate sports, the former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush regained his Heisman Trophy 14 years after he voluntarily forfeited it.

Bush, who earned his 2005 Heisman by rushing for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns, forfeited his award in 2010 after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) discovered he accepted thousands of dollars and a vehicle, among other gifts, from multiple agents.

Before 2021, the NCAA did not allow players to profit from their name, image and likeness. This meant they could not receive gifts from anyone associated with NCAA schools or participate in individual sponsorships and advertisements.

Bush became the prime example of the repercussions a player and school could face if such arrangements were made. In the aftermath of Bush’s Heisman forfeit, USC was banned from participating in postseason games in 2010 and 2011 and was forced to disassociate with Bush on all facility memorabilia and purchasable merchandise. They were additionally vacated of all of their wins from late 2004 through the entire 2005 season, including their national championship victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl.

In 2021, the new era of NIL began when the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA was not legally allowed to limit payments to student-athletes if they were education-related. However, the NCAA held that Bush’s award would not be reinstated because “pay-for-play” arrangements were still prohibited.

Bush filed a defamation lawsuit on the basis that the arrangements were not “pay-for-play,” contending there was no evidence that he was ever paid for the reason of playing at USC and the investigation was not thorough enough to warrant such an accusation that damaged his reputation. Bush’s lawsuit argues the NCAA described pay-for-play as intended to incentivize a player to attend or remain at a university, not payments from a player’s representation (e.g., agent or family friend).

After public support for Bush’s reinstatement rose and several former Heisman winners boycotted the ceremony in support of him, the NCAA reinstated Bush’s award almost three years after NIL’s commencement.

“We considered the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years in deciding that now is the right time to reinstate the trophy for Reggie,” Heisman Trophy Trust president Michael Comerford said in a statement. “We are so happy to welcome him back.”

However, Bush is not finished. The NCAA filed a motion to dismiss the defamation case late last year, which a judge will review  Monday, April 29. Bush, however, will continue to push for the trial to commence, as the claim of defamation is still on the table for his legal representation. The claim remains that the NCAA’s labeling of Bush’s case as “pay-for-play” caused him “mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment.”

Don’t expect this week’s news to be the happy ending to this saga. The NCAA’s longstanding feud with Reggie Bush may just be heating up.

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