Despite changing stance on NIL, NCAA won’t return Reggie Bush’s Heisman

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College football legend Reggie Bush returned his Heisman Trophy in 2012 after forfeiting his NCAA eligibility for accepting gifts and other forms of payment throughout his USC tenure. Though he no longer has a Heisman to show for it, many regard the former Saints and Dolphins running back as one of the greatest performers in FBS history, amassing 34 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage during his breakout 2005.

In the years since Bush’s explosive eligibility scandal, the NCAA has done a complete 180 on paying players, now allowing student athletes to profit off their names, image and likeness (NIL). In the wake of new NIL legislation, the Heisman Trust had expressed optimism that Bush would eventually have his Heisman returned to him, but deferred to the NCAA on an official ruling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen with the NCAA announcing Wednesday that, despite changes to its NIL policy, college sports’ governing body has no plans to revisit awards, statistics or any other accomplishments vacated as a result of eligibility violations.

Along with Bush, who won his lone Super Bowl as a member of the Saints in 2009, Ohio State’s “Tattoo 5” had also petitioned to have their records reinstated after having their 2010 season wiped from the books. Bush responded to Wednesday’s news in cryptic fashion, implying that he’s not quite ready to give up on his Heisman dreams.

Heisman or not, Bush has been fairly successful in his post-USC career, compiling 9,088 yards (5,490 rushing, 3,598 receiving) and 58 total touchdowns across 11 NFL seasons with New Orleans, Miami, Detroit, San Francisco and Buffalo while achieving All-Pro status as a return specialist in 2008. In the media realm, the 36-year-old has contributed to Fox’s college football coverage as a studio analyst since 2019.

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