Reggie Bush, the Super Bowl-winning NFL running back and former University of Southern California star, accused the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of wrongly preventing him from reinstating his Heisman Trophy win, a move his lawyer described as a “plantation mentality.” that treats college football stars like “servants.”
“It’s high time Reggie Bush was restored to his rightful place in college football history! Call on the NCAA to restore Reggie’s academic achievement and legacy — stand up for justice and fairness and honor true sportsmanship!” his attorney, civil rights activist Ben Crump, wrote on X on Thursday.
“The NCAA needs to change their plantation mentality and treat college athletes like contract servants,” he added.
Mr. Bush, once one of the top college football players in the country, sued the NCAA in an Indiana court on Wednesday, claiming the league defamed him by alleging he made banned “pay-for -Play” achievements accepted.
“My dream is to go back to that stadium and run out of that tunnel with the football team,” Bush said said on Wednesday at a news conference at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a decorated stadium where he played his games at USC and adorned with tributes to the schools league MVP winners. “I have dreams of coming back here and seeing my jersey and banner down there alongside the other Heisman Trophy winners. But I can’t legitimately do that without my Heisman Trophy.”
The NCAA declined comment when asked The Independent.
In 2010 became the NCAA accused Mr. Bush, then in the NFL, of accepting improper advantages by a budding sports agent while he was still a college athlete.
Perks included cash, travel expenses and a home in San Diego where his parents lived rent-free for more than a year, according to ESPN.
As punishment, the NCAA banned him from bowl games for two years, slashed 14 wins and required him to dissociate himself from USC for ten years.
Amid the running back scandal voluntarily returned his 2005 league MVP Heisman trophy.
Mr. Bush, who is now an NFL commentator, turned pro in 2006 and earned millions from professional and endorsement deals.
In 2021, a new chapter in the saga began when the NCAA announced long-awaited rule changes allowing student-athletes to capitalize on their name and likeness, opening the door for top college players to earn millions through endorsement deals, Social -Earn media accounts etc. autograph auctions and other ventures.
With the rule change, the Heisman Trust said it looks forward to “welcoming[Bush]back to the Heisman family” if the NCAA restores his status.
At the time, however, the NCAA suspected Mr. Bush’s actions as a player would still have been banned.
“Although collegiate athletes can now take advantage of their names, likenesses and likenesses through activities such as advertising and appearances, NCAA rules still do not allow pay-for-play agreements,” a spokesman told media outlets like ESPN. “The NCAA violations process is designed to promote fairness in college sports. The rules governing fair play are coordinated, agreed to, and expected to be followed by all NCAA member schools.”
Mr. Bush insists he has never engaged in “pay-for-play,” a term commonly understood to mean that he receives payment directly for playing on the field.
“Not only is it not true, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim,” the running back said during his press conference on Wednesday. “It wasn’t even part of the first NCAA investigation, so this is a new allegation to me. That’s what this lawsuit is about. It’s about the truth, about getting the facts out there and holding the NCAA accountable. I think this is maybe the first time in my memory that something like this has happened, that someone is holding them accountable for their actions and what they have done to me and other players as well as.”
For years, players and eventually state legislators pushed to allow NCAA athletes to capitalize on their accomplishments during their time as student athletes. He argued that the best college leagues are billion dollar businesseswhere universities sold lucrative media rights and top coaches made millions, but the talent driving the industry were not equally rewarded.