Reggie Bush may have thought that he didn’t have to deal with the issues that the University of Southern California has come under fire for but the University has decided to handle the situation for him.
In an effort to clean up the now tarnished image of its athletic department, USC Athletic director Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy are the first two items to go.
In a letter to school supporters, incoming USC President Max Nikias states that Garrett will be replaced by Pat Haden effective Aug. 3 and the school also will return its copy of Bush’s trophy to the Heisman Trust, among several measures to disassociate itself from the Super Bowl winning tailback.
“We’re going to do better,” Haden said. “We have to do better. We don’t have any choices here. We stub our toe, there’s going to be some problems.”
The NCAA cited Garrett’s administration for a lack of institutional control while slapping the school with heavy sanctions last month, but Haden believes he can change the culture of a program that has been wildly successful and heavily scrutinized over the past decade.
USC was hit with four years of probation, a two-year bowl ban and severe football scholarship restrictions after the NCAA found serious rules violations in the athletic department, primarily around the football and men’s basketball teams. Most involved illegal benefits for Bush and O.J. Mayo, the talented basketball player who spent just one season at USC.
Garrett has been mostly unapologetic in the face of the Trojans’ NCAA problems, even saying last month that the NCAA’s ruling revealed “a lot of envy” of the Trojans. Two weeks ago, Garrett was forced to send a letter of apology to five schools after falsely accusing them of breaking NCAA rules by contacting star tailback recruit Dillon Baxter about transferring.
Haden said the school’s plan to get rid of nearly all references to Bush and Mayo and stated that they intend to remove all of their images from school murals and remove Bush’s No. 5 jersey from its place of honor in the lobby of Heritage Hall as a part of the NCAA’s directive to disassociate the school from the athletes.
Bush’s Heisman has been on display alongside the trophies won by legendary players Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Charles White and Marcus Allen. It was still in place at the press conference on Tuesday, but officials stated that it will be gone by the time students show up on campus next month.