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Bush Surrenders Heisman award
Heisman Trophy Trust Leaves 2005 Award Vacant
After several years of allegations about taking illegal money from agents as an amateur during his Southern Cal career, Reggie Bush finally relinquished the Heisman Trophy award this week. This was long overdue and a situation that hurt all involved, the Heisman Trophy Trust, Reggie Bush, Southern Cal and amateur sports in general..
Bush surrendered the prestigious Trophy before any action was taken by the Heisman Trophy Trust. The Heisman Trust was scheduled to meet this week and indications were they were talking seriously about stripping Bush of this award. Trust President William Dockery said the eight Heisman trustees never decided to take the award from Bush.
As a long time Heisman Trophy voter, I was relieved that Bush forfeited his replica of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, though it came several years late that tarnished the nation’s most coveted amateur award. The decision was disturbing, but certainly necessary after Bush knowingly compromised his amateur status with financial compensation as a collegian. Bush received in excess of $300,000 in illegal benefits from potential agents while a member of the Trojan football program. His denial of any involvement has been consistent over the past five years that drew this sad Heisman story out unnecessarily for years.
Bush said “I find solace in knowing that the award was made possible by the support and love of so many. Those are gifts that can never be taken away" in a short statement this week. He stated that he surrendered the Trophy in respect to the Heisman Trophy Trust and other Heisman winners.
Bush won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide vote over Texas QB Vince Young. In fact, the first place votes were about 10 to 1 in favor of Bush in one of the biggest margins in voting history. I voted for Bush off his electrifying performance that included over 2800 all-purpose yards during the 2005 season. He averaged an incredible 8.7 yards per rushing attempt. His brilliance over that season is indisputable, but his off the field action is a gross violation of the NCAA rules. The NCAA committee ruled in June 2010 that Bush was ineligible for the 2005 season for receiving the benefits.
The Heisman Trophy Trust announced shortly after Bush returned the trophy that the Heisman award would remain vacant. The trust never asked members to vote related to taking the award away from Bush or if the runner up Texas QB Vince Young should be awarded the trophy. I concur with the Heisman Trust decision on both issues. The Heisman Trust is a charitable organization that does nationwide charity work and made sound decisions to protect the integrity of the award.
Southern Cal also returned its copy of Bush's Heisman while currently dealing with sanctions levied on the Trojans football program related to this and other violations. The stiff sanctions were a result of the NCAA finding Bush had received in the neighborhood of $300,000 in illegal benefits from agents during his Trojan career. Bush was declared ineligible for the Trojans' 2004 bowl game plus his Heisman-winning season 2005 season for being found to have accepted the illegal benefits. The Heisman Trophy's bylaws state that a student-athlete must be in good standing in order to qualify for the award. Bush's decision to voluntarily relinquish the trophy spared him further embarrassment of the Heisman Trust seeking a vote on the issue.
Bush declared for the NFL Draft 2006 after his outstanding junior season and went on to be a #1 draft selection of the New Orleans Saints. He developed into a key part of their Super Bowl championship season last year.
Frank Coyle is a longtime Member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Jim Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards.