Reggie Bush will get back 2005 Heisman Trophy that was forfeited by former USC star

Reggie Bush is getting his Heisman Trophy back.

ESPN reported Wednesday that the Heisman Trust, which administers the annual award for college football’s most outstanding player, is set to announce that Bush’s trophy from the 2005 season will be officially reinstated and returned to him given the "fundamental changes in college athletics," including the ability for college athletes to now profit off their name, image and likeness.

Bush was at the center of a pay-for-play scandal during his time Southern Cal, which led to massive NCAA penalties for the school and forfeiture of the trophy. According to ESPN, Bush will immediately be invited to the annual Heisman Trophy ceremony, as all former winners are.

"We are thrilled to welcome Reggie Bush back to the Heisman family in recognition of his collegiate accomplishments," Michael Comerford, president of The Heisman Trust, told ESPN. "We considered the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years in deciding that now is the right time to reinstate the trophy for Reggie. We are so happy to welcome him back."

USC's Reggie Bush rushes the ball against Washington during the third quarter at Husky Stadium in Seattle on Oct. 22, 2005.
USC's Reggie Bush rushes the ball against Washington during the third quarter at Husky Stadium in Seattle on Oct. 22, 2005.

Why was Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy forfeited?

Bush was the overwhelming winner of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, receiving 784 out of 892 first-place votes after a season in which he ran for 1,740 yards on 200 attempts.

In the fall of 2006, after he had been drafted by the New Orleans Saints as the No. 2 overall pick, Yahoo! Sports reported that Bush and his family had received benefits worth more than $100,000 from agents while enrolled at USC, which was against NCAA rules at the time. The benefits included weekly payments and a year of rent-free living at the California home of Michael Michaels, who was trying to start a marketing agency with Bush as his primary client.

After a lengthy NCAA investigation, which also revealed violations surrounding the men’s basketball program and star O.J. Mayo, the Trojans’ football program was severely punished.

The sanctions included stripping USC of its 2004 Bowl Championship Series national title, a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.

Because Bush was ruled ineligible, USC was ordered to disassociate from the running back, ban him from campus and expunge all his records. Shortly thereafter, the Heisman Trust revoked the award for the first time in its history.

Coach Pete Carroll left the program for the Seattle Seahawks in January 2010, about six months before the sanctions were announced.

What has happened since Reggie Bush forfeited his Heisman Trophy?

Over time, as attitudes and rules surrounding pay-for-play in college sports have changed, several critics and former Heisman winners have called for Bush’s award to be reinstated.

Bush himself had attempted many times, unsuccessfully, to engage the Heisman Trust about reversing their original decision. In 2022, during an interview with I AM ATHLETE, he called the NCAA’s investigation "sloppy" and said he was disappointed that Comerford had not returned his phone calls.

"It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman Trophy 'solely' due to my hard work and dedication on the football field and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated," Bush said in a written statement at the time.

The momentum to return the award to Bush picked up significantly following the NCAA’s 2021 decision to allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness and employ marketing agents like the ones who paid Bush during his time at USC.

"Personally, I’m thrilled to reunite with my fellow Heisman winners and be part of the storied legacy of the Heisman Trophy, and I’m honored to return to the Heisman family," Bush said in a statement to ESPN.

After Wednesday’s announcement, former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel – one of the most outspoken advocates for reinstatement – posted a note of appreciation on the social media site X.

"There were many voices throughout this process that stood on the table for Reggie simply because of the kind of human being he is," Manziel wrote. "I look forward to being on that stage with you this December."

Who drafted Reggie Bush?

Bush left USC for the NFL after his junior season, and he was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the second overall pick of the 2006 NFL draft.

Bush played the first five years of his career with the Saints, with whom he won a Super Bowl after the 2009 season. Bush also played two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, two with the Detroit Lions and one each with the San Francisco 49es and Buffalo Bills.

Bush announced his retirement from the NFL in 2017.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy from 2005 will be returned to ex-USC star