Reggie Bush says he is forfeiting his Heisman Trophy.
The New Orleans Saints' running back released a statement Tuesday saying he would give back the award that he won in 2005 while he was at Southern California.
It's the first time college football's top award was returned by a recipient.
"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," Bush said. "Those are gifts that can never be taken away."
by the NCAA this summer after it determined Bush had received improper benefits. The NCAA ruled that Bush was ineligible for the 2005 season, which opened the possibility that the Heisman Trophy Trust would take back the award.
Losing the Heisman could further tarnish Bush's legacy, although Bush noted last week,
One of the few guidelines given to Heisman Trophy voters is that a player must be in compliance with NCAA rules to be eligible for the trophy.
The eight-member Heisman Trophy Trust, based in New York, had said it would have to consider what to do about Bush, who won in a landslide vote over Texas quarterback Vince Young.
There was no immediate word from the Heisman Trust if the award would be vacated or given to Young.
Bush issued the following statement on the New Orleans Saints' website:
One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005. For me, it was a dream come true.
But 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.
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.
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.