LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Southern California running back Reggie Bush plans to file a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA over a statement made by college sports’ governing body about the reasoning for its decision not to restore the Heisman Trophy winner’s records.
Bush announced his plan Wednesday through his attorneys at McCathern PLLC.
Bush objects to a statement issued in July 2021 calling the star’s playing career at USC a “pay-for-play” arrangement. That standard was cited as the reason the NCAA wouldn’t restore Bush’s records, a decision that led to Bush returning his Heisman Trophy.
“The NCAA’s statement is completely false and highly offensive,” the statement from Bush’s lawyers read. “The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any ‘pay–for–play arrangement’ which never occurred.”
Two years ago after NCAA athletes were given the right to profit off their name, image and likeness rights, the Heisman Trust issued a statement saying it would look “forward to welcoming (Bush) back to the Heisman family” if the NCAA formally restored its recognition of Bush’s accomplishments.
Bush returned his Heisman Trophy in 2010 after a lengthy NCAA investigation determined he had received improper benefits during his USC career. The NCAA hit USC with hefty sanctions including a two-year bowl ban, 14 vacated victories and severe scholarship restrictions.
Bush also was required to “disassociate” from USC for 10 years. That ban ended in 2020, and USC welcomed back one of the greatest running backs in school history. Bush has never specified what extra benefits he received.
“Pay-for-play” typically refers to a different type of improper benefit arrangement than the one which resulted in USC’s sanctions and the loss of Bush’s Heisman. That seems to be the reasoning behind Bush’s decision to file the lawsuit.
“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,” the statement from Bush’s lawyers reads.