Why did Reggie Bush lose his Heisman Trophy? How did the former USC star get it back?

On June 30, 2021, the NCAA ruled that its student-athletes could start earning money for the use of their name, image and likeness, opening the door for players to be paid through sponsorship deals, endorsements and more. Almost immediately, Bush lobbied to get his Heisman Trophy back as the rules he allegedly broke essentially were no longer in effect.

The Heisman Trust initially said it would only return the trophy if the NCAA reinstated Bush’s records from the 2005 season. However, after the NCAA refused, the Heisman Trust reinstated it anyway.

Bush also filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in August (more on that in a minute).

“Although college athletes can now receive benefits from their names, images and likenesses through activities like endorsements and appearances, NCAA rules still do not permit pay-for-play type arrangements,” an NCAA spokesperson said at the time. “The NCAA infractions process exists to promote fairness in college sports. The rules that govern fair play are voted on, agreed to and expected to be upheld by all NCAA member schools.”

Other former Heisman Trophy winners publicly lobbied for Bush to get his award back. Johnny Manziel, the 2012 winner, said he would not attend the annual ceremony until Bush was allowed back.

Michael Comerford, the president of the Heisman Trust, cited “the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years” in a statement Wednesday announcing the reinstatement of Bush’s trophy. Bush called the decision “a personal victory” and “a validation of the tireless efforts of my supporters.”

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