The world of college athletics is forever changed, thanks to new Name, Image, and Likeness rules that allow athletes to make money via outside endorsements. With this new reality, plenty have brought up the fact that Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman Trophy for receiving impermissible benefits, something that is yet to be rectified by the NCAA and Heisman Trust.
Bush and his family reportedly received $300,000 in benefits from an outside agent during his time at USC. Years after his Trojans career, which was capped with the 2005 Heisman Trophy, it was deemed that he had lost his amateur status and was therefore not eligible for the award.
USC has since mended its relationship with Bush and embraced him as a football alumnus. He remains the only Heisman winner to be stripped of his title, however, something he is looking to rectify as college sports enter a new age here.
“Over the last few months, on multiple occasions, my team and I have reached out to both the NCAA and The Heisman Trust in regard to the reinstatement of my college records and the return of my Heisman,” he said in a statement. “It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman trophy ‘solely’ due to my hard work and dedication on the football field and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated.”
Reggie Bush statement after Supreme Court ruling yesterday: pic.twitter.com/Iia0xXz11f
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 1, 2021
Bush has plenty of allies on that front. Fellow Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who had his own pre-NIL autograph scandal that would likely be a non-issue today, says he should get his Trophy back. ESPN’s Jay Bilas, a constant NCAA critic, agrees. Another prominent ESPNer, Field Yates, is among those who believes that the NCAA and EA Sports should help make things right by putting him on the next edition of the long-dormant college football video game franchise.
Give Reggie Bush his Heisman back while we’re at it
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) July 1, 2021
Hey NCAA: since you have now admitted that college athletes are professional, how about righting past wrongs and reinstating the records of Reggie Bush, the Fab Five, and countless others you mistreated over the phony concept of amateurism? It was unfair then, and clearly so now.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) July 1, 2021
Reggie Bush. Give him his Heisman Trophy back too. https://t.co/alMHTuvYgz
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 1, 2021
While Bush’s violations and the things addressed by NIL are not exactly the same, had these rules existed back in the early 2000s, he may have gotten millions in endorsements, as The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman reports, during his time at USC. He was probably the most dynamic star in college football at the time. A few hundred thousand from a perspective agent, or a home, wouldn’t have been a major concern at all.
Reggie Bush didn’t have the NFL career that many envisioned, but he played over a decade in the league and made over $63 million. He’s certainly okay now, but it does feel unfair that he is still being punished over rules from a bygone era.