Heisman trust to discuss Bush situation
The Heisman Trophy deserves better than Reggie Bush. USC admitted as much when it announced it was returning its replica of the 2005 award to the Heisman trust. Bush should do the same, writes Gene Wojciechowski. Story
In a brief statement, the Heisman trust, which will hold a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday, did not indicate what action it might or might not take with regard to Bush's copy of the award. Members of the Heisman trust previously have said they might review Bush's award if he were ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
"The Trust will be considering the issues raised in the USC/Reggie Bush matter, and after reaching a decision will publish it, but due to the complex issues involved and the Trust's desire to reach an appropriate decision, no definitive timetable has been established," the trust said. "Until the matter has been fully considered and a decision is reached, the Trust has no further comment."
USC was hit with four years' 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.
The university's incoming president announced an overhaul of the athletic department Tuesday, replacing athletic director Mike Garrett with Pat Haden, ordering the removal of displays honoring Bush's and Mayo's accomplishments at USC, and returning its copy of Bush's Heisman.
Haden said the school's plan to get rid of nearly all references to Bush and Mayo -- right down to scrubbing their images from school murals and removing Bush's No. 5 jersey from its place of honor in the lobby of Heritage Hall -- are all part of the NCAA's directive to disassociate the school from the athletes.
The NCAA said Bush, currently with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, received lavish gifts from two fledgling sports marketers hoping to sign him. The men paid for everything from hotel stays and a rent-free home where Bush's family apparently lived to a limousine and a new suit when he accepted his Heisman in New York in December 2005.
The NCAA found that Bush, identified as a "former football student-athlete," was ineligible beginning by at least December 2004. The Heisman trust has been mostly silent during the Bush saga, but because the NCAA ruled he compromised his eligibility in 2005, the eight-person board of trustees could decide to make him the first player to be stripped of his Heisman.
Former Texas quarterback Vince Young was the runner-up to Bush in the 2005 Heisman voting. It is unlikely the award would be given to Young if it were taken from Bush. Instead it would be vacated.
As part of the NCAA's sanctions, USC was forced to vacate wins from the 2004 and '05 seasons. The Bowl Championship Series has said it will wait until USC's appeals process has run its course before determining whether it will vacate the Trojans' 2004 BCS title.
In public comments days after the NCAA disciplined USC, Bush did not specifically address the allegations but pledged to support USC's appeal of the sanctions.
"I believe that there's a lot of untold truth to this matter, there's a lot of fabricated lies to this matter, but it is what it is and I can't sit here and cry about it. I can't sit here and make up excuses," Bush said last month. "Ultimately, it's a responsibility that's placed on USC and my shoulders. It's because of me. So all I can do is continue to try to help them and move forward with the situation."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.