Reggie Bush plans to continue his fight against the NCAA after the return of his Heisman Trophy

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Reggie Bush is overjoyed to have his Heisman Trophy once again.

Now he wants his reputation back as well.

The former Southern California tailback says the return of his Heisman is the biggest step yet in what he sees as his fight against the NCAA to restore his good name and his records from his incredible college football career. Bush pointedly said he “never cheated” during his three seasons at USC.

“There was never a doubt in my mind that it would come,” Bush said. “Because I know the truth is on my side.”

Bush and his family celebrated the restoration of his Heisman honors Thursday during a news conference atop the venerable Coliseum, where Bush played for the Trojans before his 11-year NFL career. Bush and his three children held up the trophy together while his wife, mother and many supporters cheered.

Bush praised the Heisman Trust for his reinstatement, but the former tailback and his attorneys made it clear their fight against the NCAA has not ended. Bush indicated he doesn’t plan to drop his defamation lawsuit filed last year against the NCAA over the governing body’s 2021 characterization of the circumstances that led to Bush’s troubles.

“It was more of being labelled a cheater,” Bush said. “The trophy … being taken away from me (was painful), but being labelled a cheater was far worse, because I’ve never cheated, and there’s no proof of that, that I’ve cheated.”

Bush won the Heisman in 2005, but forfeited it in 2010 after USC was hit with massive sanctions partly related to Bush’s dealings with two aspiring sports marketers. The Heisman Trust restored the honor and returned the trophy to Bush in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday, citing fundamental changes in the structure of college athletics over the past 14 years.

The NCAA also vacated 14 wins by the Trojans and wiped many of Bush’s achievements from the record books in its sanctions. That decision still infuriates Bush, who clearly hopes his lawsuit and public pressure can force the governing body to change its stance.

“This is a clarion call to the NCAA to do the right thing, to get on the right side of history,” attorney Ben Crump said.

Bush, whose NCAA-mandated disassociation from USC ended in 2020, hopes to see his retired No. 5 on the Coliseum peristyle this fall. He also hopes to lead coach Lincoln Riley’s team out of the Coliseum tunnel, accepting the honor given to top former Trojans.

But Bush says he won’t be satisfied until his name is cleared as well.

“You can’t get to this, or a national championship, by cheating,” Bush said. “I promise you that.”

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/collegefootball

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