Former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA on Wednesday in response to claims made by a spokesperson in 2021, accusing the two-time All-American of engaging in a “pay-for-play” scheme.
“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,” according to a statement from law firm McCathern, PLLC, ESPN obtained.
On Wednesday, Bush spoke at a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum news conference and denied the organization’s claims.
“Most recently, the NCAA has made a statement about me, accusing me of engaging in a pay-for-play arrangement, which is 100% not true,” Bush said, according to CBS Sports. “Not only is it not true, but there is no evidence to even support that claim.”
Blavity reported that the NCAA released the statement on July 28, 2021, in response to the Heisman Trust’s announcement it would return Bush’s 2005 trophy if the organization reinstated his records.
Bush had record-breaking stats, racking up 3,169 yards and 25 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans, per CBS Sports.
According to reports, Bush forfeited his Heisman trophy in 2010 after the NCAA investigated him and his family members for allegedly accepting cash, travel expenses and a San Diego home while still enrolled in college.
Bush worked to have his records, likeness and Heisman trophy restored after new NCAA laws allowed athletes to receive payments from third parties, but the organization has refused to take an interest in the 38-year-old’s case, stating new rules do not eliminate past penalties.
“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,” the organization said in a statement.
For Bush, he hopes to one day return to his alma mater and have his jersey hanging in the rafters.
“I’ve got dreams of coming back into this stadium and running out of that tunnel with the football team,” Bush said Wednesday. “I’ve got dreams of walking back in here and seeing my jersey and my banner right down there next to the rest of the Heisman Trophy winners. But I can’t rightfully do that without my Heisman Trophy.”