Former Southern California and NFL running back Reggie Bush is filing a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Bush plans to file the lawsuit Wednesday at the Coliseum after an NCAA spokesperson said in 2021 that he was part of a “pay-for-play arrangement” with the Trojans.
“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,” Bush’s attorneys Levi G. McCathern and Ty M. Sheaks said in a statement, per the newspaper.
“Specifically, on July 28, 2021, the NCAA … falsely issued a statement to reporters that because of Mr. Bush’s prior involvement in a ‘pay-for-play arrangement’ the NCAA would not consider restoring his collegiate records that it vacated in 2010, which subsequently resulted in Mr. Bush having to return his Heisman Trophy (the first player in history to do so). Within less than a day, this false statement was republished by no less than 20 different media organizations and circulated to readers around the world.”
Bush won the Heisman Trophy in 2005 but vacated it five years later after an NCAA investigation determined that he and his family received gifts from a sports agent. Bush’ 10-year disassociation penalty from the NCAA ended in 2020.
Name, image and likeness (NIL) rules allowed college athletes to begin being compensated in 2021. When asked about whether Bush would have his records reinstated and his Heisman returned with respect to NIL rules, an NCAA spokesperson said that would not be the case.
“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 spokesperson said in that statement. “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.”
Bush led USC to two national titles in 2003 and 2004 and a third straight championship game appearance in 2005. He ran for 3,169 yards (7.3 per carry) and scored 42 total touchdowns in his collegiate career.
–Field Level Media