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Reggie Bush files lawsuit claiming defamation of character


Stemming from vacated Heisman Trophy

Former USC running back Reggie Bush has announced plans to file a defamation suit against the NCAA for alleging he received improper benefits.

“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.

“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. 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.”

The phrase “pay-for-play” typically refers to athletes who would not play for a school unless they were compensated, suggesting the benefits were a factor in the recruiting process, according to the Los Angeles Times. It differs from an agent providing gifts or payment in exchange for a potential share of future professional earnings.

According to the NCAA investigation, Bush, his mother and stepfather accepted thousands of dollars in cash and free housing from a would-be marketer while Bush was playing for USC beginning in December 2004. He and his family were also given an automobile, air travel, hotel lodging, transportation and other benefits, according to the NCAA’s 67-page report.

The plans for the lawsuit will be announced at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where Bush played from 2003-05, helping the Trojans 2004 national championship, which it vacated in connection with the NCAA investigation.