Reggie Bush Won't Get 2005 Heisman Trophy Back Despite NCAA's NIL Rule Change

Adam WellsJuly 28, 2021

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 16: Reggie Bush, former New Orleans Saints running back, reacts during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 16, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Despite a recent change to the name, image and likeness rules in the NCAA, Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy won't be returned. 

An NCAA spokesperson told ESPN's Kyle Bonagura that Bush's violation doesn't fall under the NIL rule:

"Although college athletes can now receive benefits from their names, images and likenesses through activities like endorsements and appearances, NCAA rules still do not permit pay-for-play type arrangements. The NCAA infractions process exists to promote fairness in college sports. The rules that govern fair play are voted on, agreed to and expected to be upheld by all NCAA member schools."

Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 2005, announced in Sept. 2010 that he was vacating the award amid speculation that the Heisman Trust was going to strip him of the honor. 

USC received a significant punishment from the NCAA, including a two-year postseason ban, loss of 10 scholarships from 2010-12 and 14 vacated wins from 2004-05 because of illegal benefits Bush received during his college career. 

The NIL policy took effect on July 1, which allowed college players to earn money through endorsement deals. 

Bush said in a statement that same day that his records should be reinstated and his Heisman returned due to his "strong belief that I won the Heisman Trophy 'solely' due to my hard work and dedication on the football field."

In a statement released on July 2, the Heisman Trust said it would return Bush's award if the NCAA reinstated his stats from the 2005 season. 

Even though his stats are no longer official, Bush had a fantastic junior year with USC. He had 1,740 rushing yards, 478 receiving yards, 493 kickoff-return yards, 179 punt-return yards and scored 19 touchdowns. 

Bush finished first in Heisman voting, ahead of Texas quarterback Vince Young and USC quarterback Matt Leinart.