x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Scandal-hit USC tries to wipe slate

The University of Southern California will remove all recognition of former star Reggie Bush from its campus - including a copy of his Heisman Trophy.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA // The University of Southern California (USC) will remove all recognition of former star Reggie Bush from its campus - including a copy of his Heisman Trophy. The school was slapped with severe penalties by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) last month after reports that Bush, who now plays for the NFL's New Orleans Saints, had accepted money and other benefits from marketing agents while playing at USC. The scandal also implicated OJ Mayo, the basketball player who played a single season with USC and now plays for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

In a letter addressed to "members of the USC Trojan family" Max Nikias, the school's president-elect, said "athletic jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush" would be removed from campus venues. "The university will also return Mr Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August," the letter said. The Heisman Trophy is college football's highest individual honour. The Trojans were banned from participating in NCAA football's lucrative post-season for two years, and were stripped of their 2004 national championship among 12 wins from the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Officials estimate the punishment will cost the university millions of dollars. College sports in the United States and the huge sums generated from broadcast rights and gate receipts have traditionally tested the ideals of amateur competition. A number of schools have fallen foul of the rule over the decades, including Dallas's Southern Methodist University, which was famously banned for an entire season in 1987 and lost dozens of scholarships for repeated payments abuses.

More recently, the NCAA spared the University of Alabama its most severe punishment - the "death penalty" - for a similar scandal involving payments to entice players in 2002. * Reuters