USC will return the Heisman Trophy won by former running back Reggie Bush, who was at the center of a probe that led the NCAA to hit the university with tough sanctions, including placing the athletic program on probation for four years, the incoming university president announced Tuesday.
In a letter announcing the hiring of Pat Haden as USC's new athletic director, incoming university President C.L. Max Nikias wrote that he wanted all tributes to Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo -- who also figured prominently in the NCAA investigation -- removed from sports facilities at the campus.
"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," Nikias wrote. "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.
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"The university will also return Mr. Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August," he wrote.
Last month, the NCAA banned the USC football team from appearing in any bowl games for the next two years, and it stripped the team of all of its wins in which Bush played beginning in December 2004.
The football program was stripped of 10 scholarships for the 2011-12, 2012- 13 and 2013-14 seasons.
A report surfaced in April 2006 that Bush's mother, brother and stepfather had lived in a San Diego-area home that was owned by a would-be marketer who planned to be part of a group that represented Bush when he turned pro.
According to the NCAA investigation, Bush, his mother and stepfather accepted thousands of dollars in cash and free housing while Bush was playing for USC beginning in December 2004. He and his family were also given an automobile, air travel, hotel lodging, transportation and other benefits, according to the NCAA's 67-page report.
The Mayo inquiry began in May 2008 after a former associate told ESPN that Mayo received cash and other benefits from Rodney Guillory, an event promoter who helped guide Mayo to USC.
According to the NCAA report, Mayo, his brother, girlfriend and girlfriend's mother received cash, lodging, transportation, meals, air travel, professional personal trainers, a cell phone, wireless service, a television, watches, shoes and clothing from "a representative affiliated with a professional sports agency and his associate."
As a result of that allegation, USC officials had already agreed to ban its men's basketball team from making any post-season appearances in the recently concluded 2009-10 season. The university also forfeited all of its basketball wins in which Mayo competed during the 2007-08 regular season, and the NCAA insisted that the penalty include any post-season wins from that year.