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Reggie Bush sues NCAA in Indianapolis court for return of Heisman Trophy

Reggie Bush sues NCAA in Indianapolis court for return of Heisman Trophy

(CNN) — Former University of Southern California superstar Reggie Bush is accusing the Indianapolis-headquartered NCAA of defamation in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a Marion County, Indiana, superior court, and is again asking the collegiate sports governing body to reinstate his football records so he can get his 2005 Heisman Trophy back.

The filing centers on a 2021 statement from the NCAA that said its rules still prohibited “pay-for-play type arrangements” based on the recent changes to name, image and likeness (NIL) rules, and “previous penalties, including those that are several years old, will not be re-evaluated or reconsidered.”

Bush won the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding collegiate football player, in 2005 when he rushed for 1,740 yards on just 200 carries and scored 18 total touchdowns for the University of Southern California. In 2010, Bush voluntarily gave up the coveted award after an NCAA investigation found he received benefits of several thousand dollars and a vehicle that were not allowed at the time and he was ruled ineligible as of 2004.

Bush, whose case was not directly mentioned in the statement, claims the NCAA defamed him and insists he was never paid to play football while at the University of Southern California.

In a separate petition to the NCAA on Aug. 14, Bush asks for reconsideration of their decision based on what Bush’s attorney Ben Crump calls a “flawed” and “sloppy” investigation.

The NCAA declined to comment on the lawsuit and petition.

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that college athletes can receive education-related payments for use of their name, image and likeness, Bush petitioned to get his award reinstated to no avail.

“The NCAA’s claim that Mr. Bush engaged in “pay–for–play” (the “Statement”) is reasonably and widely understood to mean that Mr. Bush received payment in return for playing football at the University of Southern California (“USC”),” the lawsuit claims.

Bush said the notion is “100% not true” in a news conference on Wednesday. “There’s no factual evidence behind any of these claims,” he said.

His attorneys claim the NCAA’s investigation into Bush’s actions were flawed and that he was defamed with “patently false statements” that sullied his name and reputation.

The Heisman Trophy Trust, which gives the award each December, said in 2021 that if the NCAA reinstates Bush’s 2005 status they would welcome him “back into the Heisman family.”