Bush whacked: USC cuts ties to RB, returning Heisman copy

Reggie Bush rushed for 3,169 yards during three seasons at USC, helped the Trojans claim the 2004 BCS national championship and won the 2005 Heisman Trophy as college football's best player.

After the NCAA heavily sanctioned the school for Bush's reported dealings with prospective agents, USC is trying to erase the running back from its past.

USC president-elect Max Nikias announced Tuesday in a letter addressed to "Members of the USC Trojan Family" that the school will return its copy of Bush's award to the Heisman Trophy Trust and remove "all jerseys and murals" that recognize the running back's college career by mid-August.

Former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo, the other major figure in the four-year NCAA investigation, will be treated in the same manner, according to Nikias.

"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," wrote Nakias, who will start his new job Aug. 3.

Bush's trophy has been on display in USC's Heritage Hall, alongside copies of the Heismans won by former Trojans standouts Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Charles White and Marcus Allen. It isn't known if the Heisman Trophy Trust offically will strip Bush of the 2005 award.

Bush was scheduled to participate in an online chat at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday as part of an athletic gear promotion. However, the chat moderator posted a note saying "we have had to postpone our online chat" and "we are currently working with Reggie to reschedule."

Nikias also announced that former USC quarterback Pat Haden will replace Garrett as the school's athletic director, also on Aug. 3. Haden played with the then-Los Angeles Rams from 1976 to 1981 and made the Pro Bowl in the 1977 season.

Schools, agents are on notice

   The NCAA believes it's making progress in investigating possible wrongdoing involving college athletes and professional agents, who can be difficult to police. 
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Haden, a respected member of USC's board of trustees, is firmly ensconced in Trojan lore. In 1974, he led a 55-24 victory over Notre Dame still known at the school as "The Comeback," and his final-minutes heroics in the 1975 Rose Bowl -- a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass -- gave USC an 18-17 victory over Ohio State.

Haden said USC's plan to eliminate nearly all references to Bush and Mayo -- right down to scrubbing their images from school murals and removing Bush's No. 5 jersey in its place of honor in the lobby of Heritage Hall -- are all part of the NCAA's directive to disassociate the Trojans from the athletes.

The NCAA's report, released June 10, concluded that Bush and his family accepted improper benefits from marketing agents while he played for USC.

As a result, the NCAA ruled that USC would have to vacate victories from late 2004 through the 2005 season, a period that included the Trojans' national title victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in January 2005. USC also was penalized with a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period.

Bush, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, didn't admit any wrongdoing in public comments last month, but he expressed regret over the situation.

"This thing, regarding USC and the NCAA, is the closest thing to death without dying because I have such a great love and respect for the university," Bush said. "This has been one the toughest things I've had to deal with in my life."

Pete Carroll, who went 97-19 with two national titles in nine years as the Trojans' coach, has denied any knowledge of Bush's dealings with agents. He left USC in January to return to the NFL and coach the Seattle Seahawks.

"I do feel responsible being connected with it," Carroll said of USC's troubles. "I've also felt a responsibility, with the way it's come down, to work to try to get the message out there and defend somewhat."

USC appealed some of the sanctions June 25, seeking to cut in half its bowl ban and scholarship restrictions. A ruling on the appeal isn't likely until several months into 2011, and the Trojans already agreed to serve a bowl ban in the upcoming season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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