Reggie Bush To Forfeit Heisman Trophy

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush says he is forfeiting his Heisman Trophy. Bush won the Heisman in 2005 when he was at the University of Southern California. An NCAA investigation in June concluded Bush and his family received improper benefits in violation of the association's rules.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

DAVID GREENE, host:

And I'm David Greene.

The Reggie Bush Heisman Trophy saga appears to be over. Today, the former USC running back said he will forfeit college football's top honor, becoming the first player ever to do so.

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us now to talk about this story. Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, David.

GREENE: So word of giving back this trophy came in a statement from Reggie Bush today, and we should say he now plays for the New Orleans Saints. What did Bush say?

GOLDMAN: Well, he said that one of the greatest honors of his life was winning that Heisman Trophy in 2005. He said it was a dream come true. But as you've mentioned, that dream is now over.

He says he made the difficult decision to forfeit the title as Heisman winner. He said the persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to his years at USC has been both painful and distracting.

In no way, and I'm quoting him here, in no way should the storm around these allegations reflect in any way on the dignity of this award nor on any other institutions or individuals. Nor should it distract from outstanding performances and hard-earned achievements either in the past, present or future.

David, there's a belief that the Heisman Trophy Trust, which awards the trophy to the player they deem the best college football player of the year, was heading toward a decision to take away this trophy. So this appears to be the kind of situation where a person is about to be fired, and they resign first.

To be eligible for the Heisman Trophy, a player has to be in good standing with NCAA rules, and the NCAA decided recently that Reggie Bush was not in good standing.

GREENE: Well, you mentioned those years at USC. Let's go back to them if we can, for those who haven't been following this story. This all stems from Bush's involvement with a would-be sports-marketer while he was in college. And USC over this has been hit with years' worth of sanctions.

Remind us sort of how this all transpired, if you can.

GOLDMAN: Right. Often happens with, you know, young, elite athletes who, you know, are very talented, and they're not being you know, they're not being paid for anything they do in the colleges. And so they are susceptible sometimes to these people like this marketer or agents.

This person, according to the NCAA, arranged a house for Reggie Bush's parents to live in. He arranged for the parents to travel to away games. These are improper benefits according to the NCAA. And as you mentioned, USC, a storied football power, just got hammered by the NCAA, mainly for the Bush scandal, a two-year bowl ban, which they're serving now, four years' probation, loss of football scholarships, I believe it was 30 over a three-year period.

Longtime coach Pete Carroll, on whose watch this happened, left after the season for a job coaching Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. So, but this is a very big hit to USC's football reputation.

GREENE: And real briefly, Tom, what happens to the Heisman Trophy from 2005 now? Does it go to the runner-up, Texas quarterback Vince Young?

GOLDMAN: It could. Vince Young, now the quarterback with the Tennessee Titans in the NFL, it could go to him or it could be vacated. We still don't know.

GREENE: All right. Thanks, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

GREENE: That's NPR's Tom Goldman.

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