Metairie, LA — Reggie Bush announced Tuesday he is forfeiting his title as 2005 Heisman Trophy winner.
The former Southern California star released a statement through the New Orleans Saints, saying it was one of the greatest honors of his life and a dream come true to win the award.
But under the pressure of a four-year NCAA investigation that saw USC heavily penalized, in large part due to Bush receiving impermissible benefits, the embattled Bush relinquished college football's highest individual honor.
"I know that the Heisman is not mine alone. Far from it. I know that my victory was made possible by the discipline and hard work of my teammates, the steady guidance of my coaches, the inspiration of the fans, and the unconditional love of my family and friends. And I know that any young man fortunate enough to win the Heisman enters into a family of sorts. Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name," Bush's statement read.
"It is for these reasons that I have made the difficult decision to forfeit my title as Heisman winner of 2005. The persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to my years at USC has been both painful and distracting. In no way should the storm around these allegations reflect in any way on the dignity of this award, nor on any other institutions or individuals. Nor should it distract from outstanding performances and hard-earned achievements either in the past, present or future.
"For the rest of my days, I will continue to strive to demonstrate through my actions and words that I was deserving of the confidence placed in me by the Heisman Trophy Trust. I would like to begin in this effort by turning a negative situation into a positive one by working with the Trustees to establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made. I am determined to view this event as an opportunity to help others and to advance the values and mission of the Heisman Trophy Trust."
After the NCAA sanctioned the Trojans in June, the university announced it would remove all jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of Bush, and would return its replica of his Heisman Trophy back to the Heisman Trophy Trust.
A report surfaced earlier this month that the Heisman Trust would issue a decision to strip Bush of the trophy by the end of September and leave the honor vacant for 2005 rather than award a second trophy.
Bush had become the seventh Trojan to capture the illustrious award, easily outdistancing Texas quarterback Vince Young and USC teammate Matt Leinart.
"I will forever appreciate the honor bestowed upon me as a winner of the Heisman. While this decision is heart-breaking, I find solace in knowing that the award was made possible by the support and love of so many. Those are gifts that can never be taken away," Bush said.
As part of the NCAA's decision regarding violations in the football program, a two-year bowl ban was handed down along with a reduction of scholarships and a forfeiture of wins. The forfeited victories started in December 2004, and includes USC's national championship game win over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl. All wins during the entire 2005 football season were also forfeited.
It also resulted in the university having to give back the 2004 Grantland Rice Trophy it received in recognition for winning the national football title. The award was revoked by the Football Writers Association of America, which decided to keep the 2004 honor vacant for the first since the award's inception in 1954.