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USC and Reggie Bush together again as his 10-year NCAA ban is lifted

The former star running back of the Trojans who vacated his 2005 Heisman Trophy after NCAA sanctions were handed down says he has “dreamed of this day for 10-plus years."
In this Nov. 19, 2005, file photo, Southern California tailback Reggie Bush hoists a game ball after the Trojans beat Fresno State 50-42 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The former star running back had been prohibited from interacting in an official capacity with the school he played for from 2003-05 since NCAA sanctions were handed down in 2010.
In this Nov. 19, 2005, file photo, Southern California tailback Reggie Bush hoists a game ball after the Trojans beat Fresno State 50-42 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The former star running back had been prohibited from interacting in an official capacity with the school he played for from 2003-05 since NCAA sanctions were handed down in 2010. [ KEVORK DJANSEZIAN | AP ]
Published Jun. 10, 2020
Updated Jun. 10, 2020

The University of Southern California is welcoming back Reggie Bush to the school that he helped win two national titles, ending a 10-year NCAA-mandated disassociation.

The former star running back had been prohibited from interacting in an official capacity with the school he played for from 2003-05 since NCAA sanctions were handed down in 2010. Bush and USC were penalized for him and his family receiving impermissible benefits while he was still in school.

“I’ve dreamed of this day for 10-plus years, and I’m excited to come home!” Bush, 35, said in a statement released Wednesday by USC.

USC president Carol Folt wrote in a letter to Bush that all restrictions had been officially removed and he could now “be afforded the privileges and courtesies extended to all Trojan football alums.”

Bush was a key part of teams that won national championships in 2003 and ‘04 and had a 34-game winning streak during his USC career. He won the 2005 Heisman, but the award was later vacated because of the NCAA sanctions and he voluntarily returned the statue to the Heisman Trophy Trust before the organization had a chance to strip him of it. He is the only Heisman winner not to be recognized by the Heisman Trust.

Heisman spokesman Tim Henning said the trust was aware of USC’s announcement regarding Bush but had no immediate comment.

The NCAA sanctions also led to USC being stripped of its 2004 BCS title, though The Associated Press still recognizes the Trojans as national champions for that season.

Bush remains one of the most popular players in USC history. No Trojans player has worn Bush’s No. 5 since he left.

“He was the reason why a lot of players joined USC,” said Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods, who played for the Trojans from 2010-12. “He’s a part of the USC tradition. Greatest USC football player, in my opinion. He needs a statue, too.”

Bush was drafted second overall by the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and was well into his NFL career when the NCAA finally concluded a five-year investigation of USC football.

The NCAA determined Bush received gifts and cash from a marketing agent who had hoped to represent him when he became a pro.

The sanctions against USC were some of the harshest the NCAA has handed down in the last 20 years. The Trojans were banned from the postseason for two years and stripped of a total of 30 football scholarships over three seasons.

Initially, Bush was banned permanently from associating with USC, but a tweak made in 2017 by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to its procedures reduced all previous lifetime disassociation penalties to 10 years.

Bush was working for Fox Sports last season on its studio show with former USC teammate and quarterback Matt Leinart. He returned to the Los Angeles Coliseum for a Trojans game for the first time when the Fox show broadcast from inside the stadium before a Friday night contest between USC and Utah.

Bush was greeted by USC fans displaying the No. 5 jersey and chants of “Reg-gie! Reg-gie!”

“Throughout this process, one of the consistent themes that emerged from my discussions was how much Reggie Bush means to our former players, USC alumni and fans everywhere,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn, who took the job last fall. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Reggie and so many of his teammates, and I’m pleased his disassociation has ended so that we can welcome him back to our family. I’m confident that Reggie will use his incredible platform and influential voice to support and empower all of our student-athletes.”