Sports Take: Does Reggie Bush deserve his Heisman Trophy back?

Michael Haag

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Reggie Bush, 2005 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back from the University of Southern California, ended up having his coveted trophy stripped from him due to violations against NCAA’s pay-to-play rules. Bush forfeited his trophy in 2010, realizing he would be forced to give it up eventually. At the time of these reports, USC and Bush fans alike made their case for why he should have been able to keep it. Opposing sides argued over the matter for years and the debate lives on today.

In July news broke that the NCAA approved to suspend rules on amateurism to a certain extent. This means that student-athletes can now be compensated from endorsers for their name, image and likeness (NIL). However, they may not be paid by their college institutions.

What does this mean for Bush? Can he get his trophy back? The rules did change, so who is to say that he should still be punished for something that happened 16 years ago? Apparently the NCAA.

The official ruling was determined to remain constant. Bush will not get his trophy back since he is grandfathered into the old rule. No matter the case, the argument has intensified in recent weeks and the case for him to get his award back has gained more ground. Unfortunately, it appears Bush may never receive the trophy he won all that time ago.

The message being sent here is clear: Even with the rule changes to the NIL, colleges themselves may only give out athletic scholarships and nothing else.

Going back on the promise of the old rules would cause a major rift in issues like we saw with Deandre Ayton, O.J. Mayo and other prominent athletes who faced penalties at the root of the former NIL rules. It would be an unnecessary hassle for the NCAA to open cases like this, as other exposed former college athletes could want their rulings overturned as well.

The case can be made for Bush to get his trophy back; there is no question about that. However, the logistics of the entire situation warrant unreasonable reconciliation. Bush showed football fans what he was capable of during his entire career, both at the collegiate level and in the NFL. Playing 11 seasons in the NFL at such a high level speaks for itself. Also, being a Super Bowl champion in 2010 adds to his incredible resume. In order to preserve a consistent message, the NCAA maintains that it is in the best interest for the 2005 Heisman Trophy to remain away from Bush.