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Heisman Trust won't give Reggie Bush back the 2005 Heisman unless the NCAA reinstates him

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It doesn't look like Reggie Bush will be getting his 2005 Heisman Trophy back from the Heisman Trust anytime soon. 

The Heisman Trust said Friday afternoon that it would not reinstate Bush as the winner of the 2005 Heisman until Bush's accomplishments are officially recognized by the NCAA. The Heisman cited a rule that said that its winners have to be eligible at the time they won the Heisman and the NCAA's official stance is that Bush was ineligible that season because of benefits he and his family got from an agent. 

“In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award must be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete.”

Bush’s 2005 season records remain vacated by the NCAA and, as a result, under the rule set forth by the Heisman Trust and stated on the Heisman Ballot, he is not eligible to be awarded the 2005 Heisman Memorial Trophy. Should the NCAA reinstate Bush’s 2005 status, the Heisman Trust looks forward to welcoming him back to the Heisman family.

Bush is the only player to have his Heisman win vacated. He gave his trophy back to the Heisman Trust in 2012, two years after the NCAA vacated the wins Bush participated in and hammered USC with penalties relating to Bush's tenure at the school. 

Bush wants his records and Heisman back

Bush said Thursday that he wanted his Heisman back and his NCAA statistics officially reinstated. Bush's statement came on the first day that college athletes across the country were allowed to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness. 

“We reached out to the NCAA on multiple occasions and received no help or got no response at all," Bush's statement said in part. "It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman Trophy ‘solely’ due to my hard work and dedication on the football field and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated.”

Bush rushed for 3,169 yards, caught 95 passes for 1,301 yards and scored 43 touchdowns in three seasons at USC. He was a major contributor to the 2004 USC team that won the (officially vacated) BCS title and won the Heisman in 2005 when USC lost to Texas in one of the greatest Rose Bowls of all time. 

Will Bush get his records back?

While Bush has been welcomed back by USC after its mandated disassociation with him ended in 2020, it's trickier to figure out if or when the NCAA will reinstate Bush's stats and the wins that USC got with him on the field in 2004 and 2005. 

The NCAA made an example out of Bush when it investigated the benefits he and his family received after his playing career was over. And it hit USC with a bowl ban and scholarship losses. 

If it does decide to reinstate Bush's stats and USC's wins, that reinstatement would largely come as part of a larger effort to reinstate statistics and games for teams that had players who received improper benefits. The 2005 USC team is not the only team in college sports that has had wins taken away after the fact because players were ruled to be receiving improper benefits. 

The NCAA would also likely have to decide that all the benefits Bush (and others) received were compliant with current name, image and likeness rules. And we're not sure the NCAA would make that decision. At least not anytime soon without a federal law in place governing athlete endorsements. State laws vary across the country and schools in states where laws don't currently exist are making varying rules governing the benefits their athletes can and can't receive. 

Don't be surprised if the NCAA waits a while to address Bush's situation and others like it.

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