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Everything You Need to Know About the Reggie Bush NCAA Defamation Lawsuit

Last Updated: August 25, 2023
The USC Trojans legend is on a mission to set the record straight. Let’s explore the key details of the Reggie Bush lawsuit and what’s being alleged.

Reggie Bush is definitively one of the most decorated college football players ever, leading the USC Trojans to two national championships and winning the 2005 Heisman Trophy as a running back who could turn seemingly any play into an explosive touchdown. An NCAA investigation later found, however, that he and his family received impermissible benefits throughout his college career, including cash, travel expenses, and real estate.

In 2010, Bush’s college records were wiped away and he was famously, controversially asked to give his Heisman back.

When NIL monetization laws went into effect for amateur athletes in July of 2021, Bush pushed to have his Heisman restored. The Heisman Trust said it would have restored Bush’s trophy had his 2005 stats been reinstated. They were not; an NCAA spokesperson responded quite strongly at the time to Bush’s request.

“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. 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.”

It’s specifically the term “pay-for-play” that led Reggie Bush to file a lawsuit against the NCAA on defamation grounds, his lawyers said Wednesday. The suit was filed in Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis, where the NCAA is headquartered.

“The lawsuit is based on the NCAA maliciously attacking his character through a completely false and highly offensive statement that was widely reported in the media and substantially and irreparably damaged his reputation,” Law firm McCathern, PLLC said of the Reggie Bush lawsuit. “The NCAA’s statement is completely false and highly offensive. The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any ‘pay–for–play arrangement’ which never occurred.”

Bush, the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, retired from football in 2017 after 11 professional seasons. He currently works as a television analyst for Fox Sports.

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As part of his punishment handed down by the NCAA in 2010, Bush was barred from associating with USC for 10 years. With that window now passed, Bush not only wants his Heisman back, but he desires to lead his alma mater out onto the field once again, he said at a Wednesday press conference at Los Angeles Coliseum, the Trojans’ home stadium.

While this lawsuit wouldn’t guarantee the restoration of Bush’s Heisman Trophy or make up for the time he lost away from the program and the university, it would represent a modicum of justice against an organization in the NCAA that is held almost unanimously in ill regard due to being stubbornly rooted in old, often draconian ways that are routinely at odds with student athletes’ best interests.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.