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Eleven years after his Heisman Trophy was vacated and his legendary 2005 season was erased from the NCAA record books, former USC star running back Reggie Bush might soon be free to reclaim his coveted trophy.
The Heisman Trust broke its longstanding silence on the issue Friday, responding to public calls from Bush to have the trophy returned in the wake of the NCAA’s new policy allowing athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. In a statement, the group in charge of college football's most prestigious award said that “should the NCAA reinstate Bush’s 2005 status, the Heisman Trust looks forward to welcoming him back to the Heisman family."
But until the NCAA reverses course on its ruling that Bush violated NCAA rules, leaving him ineligible for his trophy-winning season, the Heisman Trust says that will have to wait.
“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,” the statement read.
The NCAA ruled in June 2010 that Bush was retroactively ineligible during his electric 2005 season as a result of him and his family accepting impermissible benefits from two would-be sports marketers. Harsh sanctions were imposed on USC, which was forced to vacate the 2004 national title and permanently disassociate from Bush. Any mention of the running back was erased from USC — every image scrubbed, every record book entry affixed with an asterisk.
That disassociation ban finally was lifted last June, because of a 2017 rule change that limited such bans to a decade. Bush said in a statement that he’d “dreamed of this day for 10-plus years."
“This always lingered in the back of my head,” Bush said in an interview on FS1 last June. “It’s the thing that kept me up late at night and haunted me as well.”
Bush did not respond to text messages sent by the Los Angeles Times on Friday. In a statement posted to social media Thursday, Bush said he reached out to both the NCAA and the Heisman Trust about the reinstatement of his college records and the return of his trophy.
“It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman trophy ‘solely’ due to my hard work and dedication on the football field,” Bush wrote, “and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated.”
Now it will be up to the NCAA to decide.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.