As previously announced, Mark Ingram II has joined Fox Sports Big Noon Kickoff to replace Reggie Bush. And while the former USC running back is no longer a panelist at Fox Sports, he’s by no means done with college football.
Bush’s lawyers told ESPN that the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner (later vacated) filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA on Wednesday.
“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 obtained by ESPN from law firm McCathern, PLLC.
In 2021, Bush tweeted a statement that he was making a push to have his college records reinstated, and most importantly, get his Heisman Trophy returned.
My statement… pic.twitter.com/kbyqXgHncf
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) July 1, 2021
Given that college football players are now allowed to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, Bush wants to see the sanctions and punishments against him retroactively removed. The former USC running back was infamously banned by the NCAA in 2010 over impermissible benefits that he and his family received from an agency. All of his stats and records were removed from NCAA record books and he was forced to give back his Heisman Trophy. Bush was only just welcomed back to USC in 2020 after a 10-year disassociation ended.
This also coincides with
While the rules might have been different at the time, the court of public opinion appears to be on his side now. That hasn’t seemed to dissuade the NCAA from digging in its heels, especially when considering the statement in question, which was sent to multiple media outlets in response to Bush more than two years ago:
“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,” an NCAA 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.”
“The NCAA’s statement is completely false and highly offensive,” the McCathern statement said. “The NCAA knew Mr. Bush was never even accused of, involved in, much less sanctioned for any ‘pay-for-play arrangement,’ which never occurred.”
While this predates Wednesday’s lawsuit, Bush had previously announced a partnership with Believe Entertainment Group to make a documentary about his Heisman Trophy being vacated. Bush will be one of the executive producers of the documentary. Kirk Fraser, who directed ESPN’s “30 for 30: Without Bias” will direct the film. The documentary is expected to cover both Bush’s role on USC’s championships football teams as well as the fallout of what happened after.
“After all these years I’m finally ready to tell my story, I hope this can help drive change with the next generation of student-athletes,” Bush said in a statement. “We’re making some progress, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Perhaps that progress starts with the defamation lawsuit. Per ESPN, Bush will speak at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday morning.