While no official decision has been made, there are reports and speculation that former USC running back Reggie Bush could lose his Heisman Trophy. No player in Heisman Trophy history has ever been stripped of the honor.
While some make a big deal of Bush's acceptance of gifts for both him and his family, did those gifts make him perform differently on the field?
What Reggie Bush Did
It is against NCAA rules for college players to accept gifts from anyone. College players are student athletes, which means while they are playing football, they are still preparing themselves for the rest of their life. Accepting gifts like this could sway a student-athlete to leave school early.
Reggie Bush had huge expectations to be a star NFL running back after college, and when Bush started performing on the field, marketers started flocking his way to get a piece of the pie.
Reports say that Bush accepted gifts from two marketers, both of whom were trying to sign the running back at the time. It is said that Bush accepted everything from money, to free lodging, and even a home free of rent that his family stayed in.
Accepting any of these is an NCAA violation.
Why He Did It
Reggie Bush hasn't made a formal statement on the matter, but it isn't hard to see why he did it.
Bush didn't come from a family of great wealth. Once he started performing in football, he saw an out for him and his family.
Accepting these gifts helped his family more than it helped himself. He was able to provide them with free living, which was one of the gifts he received from these sports marketers.
He was also playing football for free at the college level. Most players of his caliber were playing on Sundays, cashing in huge paychecks after every game.
Bush got caught up in the glamor of NFL stardom before he even got there.
Was He Right In His Actions?
Of course it wasn't right for Reggie Bush to accept gifts and violate NCAA rules. That being said, there is much more to the story than that.
Bush wasn't doing it to pocket more money; he was doing it to help his family. If anything, he was exploited by savvy businessmen who were looking out for their own best interests.
If Reggie Bush could do it all over again, there is no question that he would choose a different route. There is nothing more important to an individual athlete than winning the Heisman Trophy.
No final decision has been made regarding Bush losing his Heisman Trophy. The Heisman Trophy Trust, a group of eight business men, has yet to make a ruling on this case.
Only a deciding vote by the Trust could cause Bush to officially lose his Heisman trophy.
The Trust has said that they have not had a formal meeting to discuss the matter, and even though many have said Bush will lose his Heisman Trophy, it is still all speculation.
The Trust has a regularly scheduled meeting upcoming in September, but it is unclear whether they will take an official vote on the matter.
USC has already been asked to vacate wins from the 2004-2005 seasons, remove any memorabilia of Bush, and give back their copy of his Heisman. The NCAA is also disallowing USC to play in any bowl games this season and stripping them of 30 scholarships over a three-year period.
The ruling could go either way. The NCAA has already given USC a harsh ruling, so it would be fitting for Reggie Bush to endure the same type of punishment.
However, no athlete has ever had a Heisman Trophy stripped, and it is unclear whether the Heisman Trophy Trust would like to make history that way.
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