USC HIT HARD:USC to return Bush’s Heisman

“The University of Southern California will return the Heisman Trophy won by former star tailback Reggie Bush in 2005, incoming university president C.L. Max Nikias announced Tuesday.

USC will return Bush’s trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust next month and will take down any jerseys or murals recognizing the former star.

Nikias delivered the news in a memorandum, adding that he has instructed the athletic department to remove murals of Bush and former basketball star O.J. Mayo from university grounds. Improper benefits taken by Bush and Mayo during their time at USC prompted wide-ranging NCAA sanctions leveled against the school last month.

Nikias also announced that athletic director Mike Garrett would be replaced by former Trojans star quarterback Pat Haden and that the school would take other steps to ensure compliance with NCAA rules.

Said Nikias in his memo: “The Trojan family honors and respects the USC sporting careers of those persons whose actions did not compromise their athletic program or the opportunities of future USC student-athletes. Accordingly, I have instructed the senior vice president for administration to remove athletic jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush by mid-August – before the incoming class of students moves on campus – from Heritage Hall, the Galen Center , and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The university will also return Mr. Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August.”

The Heisman Trophy Trust’s eight voting members will meet July 27 to determine what to do with Bush’s trophy. Members of the Trust declined comment on that meeting, and as of Tuesday afternoon they were still unaware of USC’s plans to return Bush’s Heisman. Whether such an unprecedented move will sway the Trust’s decision on Bush’s trophy remains to be seen.

As for Garrett, his tenure as USC’s athletic director appeared to be on shaky ground in recent months, with the impending departure of school President Steven B. Sample in August. Sample hired Garrett in 1993. Garrett’s standing took another hit last month, after the school’s football program was dealt arguably the harshest non-death penalty sanctions in the history of the NCAA.

His ouster completes sweeping change in the athletic department over the last 13 months, including the resignation of basketball coach Tim Floyd in June of 2009 and the departure of football coach Pete Carroll in January.”


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