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A rightful reunion with the Heisman

Why the Committee decided Reggie Bush should finally get his trophy back after 14 years
A rightful reunion with the Heisman

Following an amazing season with the USC Trojans in 2005, running back Reggie Bush won the coveted Heisman Trophy, becoming the first non-quarterback in six years to take home the award. However, following investigations into Bush’s bank funds and assets, he was stripped of the Heisman because it was found he took improper financial benefits from his university.

It wasn’t a matter of controversy over the winner in 2005; Bush was the clear-cut favorite and won the award rightfully. What happens when you take funds, a car, and even a fully-purchased home from college representatives to stick around? The college football and Heisman committees agreed that you shouldn’t be affiliated with them, and that meant giving up the title and trophy for Bush. They even removed his place in the physical and virtual records of Heisman history; 2005 became a void year.

It wasn’t a crime, but at the time, it was against policies in the NCAA to be offered money and valuables. Going one step further, it was worse to accept the offers. That was almost twenty years ago though, and the college scenario has changed drastically, and not just for football. Brand deals involving an athlete’s name, image, and likeness (otherwise known as NIL deals) have become increasingly popular.

Only the best of the best receive these deals from their colleges, or sometimes even outside sponsorships. A player of Reggie Bush’s caliber would most definitely receive some of these offers, and he was well aware of it. Upon college NIL deal legalization in 2021, Bush started on the long road to take back his Heisman.

Previously, the Heisman Trust had stated they would only give back the trophy and title if the NCAA reinstated his 2005 season. The NCAA still hasn’t done this, and there is no indication that they ever will. However, seeing NIL deals skyrocket in popularity over the last few years demonstrated to the Trust that what Bush did perhaps wasn’t too bad.

As of April 2024, the Heisman Trust has reinstated Bush as the winner of 2005. They’ve even regifted the trophy he gave up over a decade ago. As mentioned previously, he never committed an actual crime. The idea of him accepting the offers back in 2005 wasn’t even too ludicrous to most, and that was the dominant controversy around him losing the award.

It was unfortunate he had to lose it at all, but he has now regained possession, and it is doubtful he will give it up again. As for NIL deals, they have been a great success in the college world, giving attention to the players that deserve it the most and setting them up with brand deals outside their sport. They will continue to grow and pave the way to new opportunities for players across the country, solidifying how positive an effect it has had on the world of college sports.


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About the Contributor
Ryan Brown, Sports Writer