In 2010, former USC Trojans and NFL running back Reggie Bush was forced to vacate his Heisman Trophy award due to a "pay-for-play" scheme, and now he's suing the NCAA for defamation.
In today's college football, players can profit from their name/ image/likeness (NIL) deals. With that, it shines a light on the treatment of Bush, who likely wouldn't have had to vacate his Heisman, Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award or national championship win if he played today.
When NIL came to be, the NCAA had an opportunity to give Bush his Heisman back but didn't.
According to J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times, Bush was scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday to announce his intent to file a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA.
"The lawsuit is based on the NCAA maliciously attacking his character through a completely false and highly offensive statement that was widely reported in the media and substantially and irreparably damaged his reputation," said Levi G. McCathern and Ty M. Sheaks, Bush's attorneys.
The sole reason is the NCAA's refusal to reinstate Bush's accolades.
"Specifically, on July 28, 2021, the NCAA ... falsely issued a statement to reporters that because of Mr. Bush's prior involvement in a 'pay-for-play arrangement' the NCAA would not consider restoring his collegiate records that it vacated in 2010, which subsequently resulted in Mr. Bush having to return his Heisman Trophy," the attorneys said. "Within less than a day, this false statement was republished by no less than 20 different media organizations and circulated to readers around the world."
The issue with that statement is "pay-for-play," which implies Bush received money to play for USC. However, the benefits he and his family got came from an agency that wanted to have Bush as a client for when he went to the NFL.
"The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any 'pay-for-play arrangement' which never occurred," Bush's attorneys said.
Sure, this isn't the most oblivious accusation or statement. However, it's still technically false, which Bush and his lawyers will argue harmed Bush.
Now, we wait to see how this unfolds. Will the "technically false" statement and presence of NIL in today's game help Bush? Only time will tell.
During the season in which Bush won the Heisman — 2005 — he ran for 1,740 yards on 200 carries and caught 37 passes for 478 yards. He had 18 total touchdowns.
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