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Ex-USC star Bush to sue NCAA for defamation

Former USC running back Reggie Bush will file a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA on Wednesday, according to his lawyers.

“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.

The NCAA statement in question was issued to ESPN, along with other media outlets, on July 28, 2021, in response to an inquiry about the possibility of Bush having his records and participation restored in light of changes to name, image and likeness rules that went into effect earlier that month.

“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.”

Bush will speak at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday morning.

This all has to do with Bush’s attempt to have his 2005 Heisman Trophy reinstated. Bush forfeited the trophy in 2010 after a four-year extra-benefits investigation determined that he and family members, while he was a student-athlete, accepted cash, travel expenses and a home in the San Diego area where Bush’s parents lived rent-free for more than a year and for which they were provided $10,000 to furnish.

The Heisman Trophy Trust has long maintained that because Bush’s 2005 season was vacated by the NCAA, he was not eligible to win. However, if the NCAA were to officially restore his records, it is expected that Bush’s trophy would be returned.

“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.”

Bush’s required 10-year disassociation from USC ended in 2020.

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

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