Reggie Bush Plans to Sue NCAA Over 'Pay-for-Play' Remark

Former USC star wants his Heisman Trophy back
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2023 7:49 AM CDT
Reggie Bush Plans to Sue NCAA Over 'Pay-for-Play' Remark
Former USC football player Reggie Bush, left, and his attorney Ben Crump hold a news conference announcing a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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 and his attorneys at McCathern PLLC announced the lawsuit Wednesday in the rented President's Suite atop the Coliseum, the Trojans' home for the past 100 years, the AP reports. The Peristyle end of the venerable stadium features large banners honoring all of USC's eight Heisman winners except current quarterback Caleb Williams and Bush, who is hoping to clear up his current murky status in college football history.

Bush is filing the suit as part of his quest to reclaim the Heisman he voluntarily returned in 2010 after the school was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions related to improper financial benefits he received during his playing career. He is suing over a statement issued in July 2021 describing the star's playing career at USC as a "pay-for-play" arrangement. The NCAA used the phrase while detailing why it wouldn't restore the records of Bush's playing career, which the Heisman Trust has cited as the next step in returning Bush's trophy. "Pay-for-play" typically refers to a different type of improper benefit arrangement than the one which the NCAA cited in leveling USC's sanctions. The NCAA claimed Bush accepted extra benefits from people not affiliated with USC who hoped to cash in on Bush's professional career as agents or sports marketers

"The NCAA's statement is completely false and highly offensive," a statement from Bush's lawyers said. "The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any 'pay–for–play arrangement' which never occurred."

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Under NCAA sanctions, Bush was required to "disassociate" from USC for 10 years. That ban ended in 2020, and USC has already welcomed back one of the greatest running backs in school history. "I've got dreams of coming back in this stadium and running out of that tunnel with the football team," Bush said. "I've got dreams of walking back in here and seeing my jersey and my banner right down there next to the rest of the Heisman Trophy winners. But I can't rightfully do that without my Heisman Trophy."

(More Reggie Bush stories.)

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