New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush has decided to return the Heisman Trophy he won as a member of the USC Trojans football team in 2005.
This comes after a four-year investigation in which NCAA passed down heavy sanctions on USC relating to improper benefits received by Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo.
Bush, previously reluctant to give up the award, now says in a statement he feels it is the right thing to do,
“One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005. For me, it was a dream come true. But I know that the Heisman is not mine alone. Far from it. I know that my victory was made possible by the discipline and hard work of my teammates, the steady guidance of my coaches, the inspiration of the fans, and the unconditional love of my family and friends.
And I know that any young man fortunate enough to win the Heisman enters into a family of sorts. Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name. It is for these reasons that I have made the difficult decision to forfeit my title as Heisman winner of 2005.”
Bush, who led the Trojans to the national title game in 2005, became the center NCAA investigation shortly after being taken with the second pick in the draft by the New Orleans Saints in the 2006.
Allegations that Bush and his family had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from two California-based marketing agents were first reported by Yahoo Sports in September of that year. After the smoke cleared the NCAA came down hard issuing penalties that included the loss of 30 football scholarships over three years and vacating 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through the 2005 season.
The eight-member Heisman Trophy Trust is set to meet on Tuesday, whether or not they would discuss Bush forfeiting his award was up in the air. In proactive move, Bush is returning the accolade and says he will work hard to amend his wrongs,
“For the rest of my days, I will continue to strive to demonstrate through my actions and words that I was deserving of the confidence placed in me by the Heisman Trophy Trust.”
This is the first time college football’s top award has ever been returned by the awardee.