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USC football: Pat Haden says Reggie Bush did not apologize in phone conversation

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USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said Friday that he spoke last week with a contrite Reggie Bush, but that embattled 2005 Heisman Trophy winner did not apologize for actions that played a major role in the NCAA’s decision to hit the school with severe sanctions.

That contradicts a report by USA Today that Haden had said Bush apologized for those actions.

“Never did he say I’m sorry or I apologize,” Haden said. “Never did he say, 'I lied to the NCAA or I took stuff.' ”

The NCAA found that Bush and his family received improper benefits from agents during part of the 2004 season and all of the 2005 season. USC was hit with major sanctions that include four years’ probation, a two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over the next three years. USC is appealing some of the penalties.

As part of the sanctions, USC must disassociate itself from Bush. That means removing all images of the tailback from campus and the Coliseum, and images and records from the football media guide. USC has removed Bush’s retired No. 5 jersey from Heritage Hall and returned its copy of the Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trust.

USA Today reported on its website Thursday night that Bush apologized to Haden in their phone conversation.  But Haden said that was incorrect.

“I would say it was conversation of him being contrite, but not an apology,” Haden said.

Haden said that he checked with USC’s compliance department before taking the call from Bush, who plays for the New Orleans Saints. Haden said he mostly listened during the call.

“When we say we have to disassociate ourselves, I didn’t know if I could talk to him or even listen to him,” Haden said. “It was basically just a conversation about him feeling bad about what he put the university through.”

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Pat Haden. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

 
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