Money Matters - Simplified

Reggie Bush returns his 2005 Heisman trophy amid controversy

It's the first time in Heisman’s 75-year history that the college football's top award has been returned by a recipient.

Amid all the controversies and allegations, former University of Southern California (USC) tailback Reggie Bush decided to give back his Heisman Trophy, the symbol of the best player in college football, according to numerous U.S. reports.

Bush, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, was awarded the Heisman Trophy in December 2005 in a ceremony at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.

This summer, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ruled that Bush was not eligible for the 2005 season after it determined that he and his family had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from two California-based marketing agents while he was a star running back at USC.

USC was hit with serous sanctions by the NCAA for violations in its football program, and, in July, USC newly appointed athletic director Pat Haden returned a replica of Bush’s Heisman Trophy.

The NCAA ruling and its accusations, which came after a four-year investigation into USC's athletic program, opened the possibility that the eight-member Heisman Trophy Trust would take back the award from Bush.

Bush forfeits his top award
On Tuesday, the NBA star chose to give back the award before most likely being stripped of it.

In an unprecedented move yesterday, Bush gave back his 2005 Heisman Trophy, a singularly eminent award in American sport, saying the scandal over improper benefits should not stain “the dignity of this award.”

USC was hit with serous sanctions by the NCAA for violations in its football program, and, in July, USC newly appointed athletic director Pat Haden returned a replica of Bush’s Heisman Trophy.

It's the first time in Heisman’s 75-year history that the college football's top award has been returned by a recipient.

Bush’s statement
The Huffington Post published Bush’s full statement, in which he said:

"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.

“The persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to my years at USC has been both painful and distracting,’’ Bush stated. “In no way should the storm around these allegations reflect in any way on the dignity of this award, nor on any other institutions or individuals.

“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.

“I will forever appreciate the honor bestowed upon me as a winner of the Heisman. While this decision is heart-breaking, I find solace in knowing that the award was made possible by the support and love of so many. Those are gifts that can never be taken away."

NCAA probe came down hard on USC
It took NCAA at least four years to complete its investigation. The association handed down its final report in June, in which it cited USC for a lack of institutional control, and also numerous improper benefits for Bush and Mayo, who spent just one year with the Trojans.

The penalties levied 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, ESPN Sports reports.