New Orleans Saints’ running back, Reggie Bush, announced this week that he has decided to forfeit his Heisman Trophy, which he earned thanks to an award-winning 2005 campaign at USC.
In a statement, the 25-year-old NFL pro said that each athlete fortunate enough to win the award has been “entrusted with its good name,” so for that reason, he’s relinquished his title.
“One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005,” Bush said in the statement. “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.”
As seen in the media for months, the NCAA passed down heavy sanctions on USC, relating to improper benefits received by Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo.
In June, USC was hit with a two-year ban on postseason play and a reduction in 10 scholarships for the next three seasons, for illegal benefits Bush received during his three years with the Trojans.
However, the Heisman Trust hadn’t made a decision as to whether Bush should have his trophy stripped. They were scheduled to meet on Tuesday (September 15) to discuss the issue, according to ESPN.
Now, Bush says he will continue to let his play on the field as a Saint show that he was, in fact, deserving of the award he won in college.
“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,” Bush’s statement continued. “I would like to begin in this effort by turning a negative situation into a positive one by working with the Trustees to establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made. I am determined to view this event as an opportunity to help others and to advance the values and mission of the Heisman Trophy Trust.”
This is the first time the Heisman was returned by a recipient. One of the few guidelines given to Heisman Trophy voters is that a player must be in compliance with NCAA rules to be eligible for the trophy.
The eight-member Heisman Trophy Trust announced Tuesday that the 2005 Heisman award would remain vacant in an announcement to ESPN, although it could’ve been handed down to Vince Young who came in second place.
“The Trustees of the Trust have been monitoring the NCAA investigation of Reggie Bush and USC since first announced,” the Trust said in a statement. “We determined that no action was necessary by the Trust unless and until the NCAA acted and issued its report. Since the issuance of the NCAA decision vacating USC’s 2005 season and declaring Reggie Bush an ineligible athlete, the Trustees have met, discussed and reviewed all information underlying this decision in an effort to exercise the due diligence and due process required of any decision regarding the awarding of the 2005 Heisman Trophy.
“As a result of Reggie Bush’s decision to forfeit his title as Heisman winner of 2005, the Trustees have determined that there will be no Heisman Trophy winner for the year 2005.”