New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, reportedly will be stripped of the award due to violations of N.C.A.A. policy, namely accepting $290,000 in gifts from sports marketers while he played for the Trojans. The #2 pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Bush foolishly refused to repay the men who made the gifts, despite signing a lavish endorsement contract with Adidas after he opted out of his senior year to make himself eligible for the draft.
Bush reportedly signed endorsement deals worth $5 million after leaving U.S.C. and threatened to become a holdout if the Saints didn’t meet his salary demands. The team did, rewarding him with a contract worth north of $20 million. Despite this, he refused to make good with the sports marketers. Bush’s snubbing of his financial mentors resulted in a lawsuit that made the N.C.A.A. violations public.
His alma matter, the University of Southern California, has also been hit hard by the Reggie Bush Scandal.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the governing body of the college sports programs at nearly 1,300 colleges and universities in Canada and the United States.
U.S.C. itself has been stripped of its 2004 Grantland Rice Award, given to it as the national collegiate football champion, as members of the Trojans football program knew of Bush’s financial deal and did nothing to stop it. The Football Writers Association of America, which grants the award and withdrew it from U.S.C., also announced that the Trojans will not be considered for the award in 2010.
It is the first time since the Grantland Rice Award was first given out in 1954 that a national champion was forced to forfeit the title.
Aside from forcing the Trojans to lose its national championship due to U.S.C.’s having to forfeit its last two wins of the 2004 season (it also lost all its wins on the record books for the 2005 season), the N.C.A.A. sanctions against U.S.C. included stripping the school of 30 scholarships over three years and banning it from bowl games in 2010 and 2011. Furthermore, U.S.C. has been put on probation for four years.
If Reggie Bush is stripped of the award, which is given annually by the New York’s Downtown Athletic Club to honor college football’s best player, it will be the first time in the 75-year history of the award that a winner has had to forfeit the trophy. Reportedly, the D.A.C. has not made a formal decision yet but plans to do so by the end of September.
In the Olympics, winners have been stripped of their medals going back to Jim Thorpe in 1912. After winning the pentathlon and decathlon, Thorpe was deemed not to have been an amateur as he had played some pro baseball games in the minor leagues at a time when baseball was not an Olympic sport. (Ironically, Thorpe did play in exhibition baseball games at the 1912 Olympics. Considered the greatest American athlete of the 20th Century, baseball was the one sport he did not excel in.) In 1913, Thorpe was forced to return the two gold medals he won in the pentathlon and decathlon. They were not officially restored to him, posthumously, until 1982, 29 years after his death.
In pro sports, wrong-doers and no-goodniks keep their Most Valuable Player Awards and Cy Young Awards, as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can attest to. When an Olympian is stripped of his or her medals, the runner-up is given the award. The runner-up for the 2005 Heisman Trophy was Vince Young, the quarterback of the University of Texas, Austin Longhorns. Bush’s Trojan teammate, quartrerback, Matt Leinart –currently with the Houston Texans — was third.
Bush received 2,541 points in the Heisman voting, including 784 first-place votes. (Only O.J. Simpson, another Heisman Award-winning Trojan running back, received more first-place votes than Bush when he racked up 855 in 1968.) Bush finished 933 points ahead of Vince Young.
The voting is done primarily by sports journalists, though previous Heisman winners also have a vote and ESPN — which currently underwrites the Heisman Tropjy Trusts and televises the award — casts one vote after polling college football fans.
Besides Bush and O.J. , U.S.C. running backs Mike Garrett, Charles White and Marcus Allen have won the Heisman as have quarterbacks Leinart and Carson Palmer.
U.S.C., which is under heavy penalties for its own role in the Reggie Bush scandal, reportedly has been ordered to erase one of its greatest football players from its institutional memory, such as eliminating references to Bush and blotting his picture out of sports murals. It is a punishment worthy of Stalin’s U.S.S.R., where those who fell into disfavor were erased from history books, thrown down an Orwellian “memory hole.”
It is uncertain whether Vince Young, current the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, would receive the Heisman retroactively. No other team was awarded the 2004 championship after it was stripped from U.S.C.
Reportedly, the Downtown Athletic Club plans to leave the 2005 Heisman Trophy vacant.
If Reggie Bush does lose the Heisman, it will be his second major loss of the year. He split with girlfriend Kim Kardashian in March.
Bleacher Report, College Football: Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy Should Be Given to Vince Young
ESPN, USC’s Bush wins Heisman by monumental margin
Fox Sports, USC loses Grantland Rice Trophy
Los Angeles Times, Reggie Bush scandal costs USC more hardware and prestige
NCAA Football Fanhouse, Reggie Bush Owes Multiple Apologies, Must Return Heisman Trophy
Village Voice, Reggie Bush More Scorned than OJ Simpson, Somehow
Yahoo Sports, Will Reggie run a reverse? by Jason Cole