Daryl Gross, a senior associate athletic director at USC, was introduced as the new athletic director at Syracuse on Friday.
Gross, 43, succeeds Jake Crouthamel, who is retiring after 27 years in the position.
"I can't think of a better place to get started with my own A.D. job than at Syracuse," Gross told reporters during a campus news conference in Syracuse, N.Y. "I'm thrilled. I'm overwhelmed. I've met the people here, and it's really obvious that they have a lot of pride and a lot of passion for this school. My job here will be to carry our banner and take Syracuse as high and as far as we can take it."
Gross conducted coaching searches at USC, including those that resulted in the hiring of football Coach Pete Carroll and men's basketball Coach Rick Majerus. He also handled football and men's basketball scheduling and had been responsible for nine other sports.
Gross interviewed with Syracuse officials last week in New York while attending the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
At Friday's news conference, Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor said eight candidates were interviewed before Gross was hired.
"It was an absolute, unanimous, clear-cut choice," Cantor said. "This is one of the best hires I think this institution will make in a long time."
Gross becomes one of only eight African American athletic directors in NCAA Division I-A.
"The fact that he's African American, in my view, is just fabulous, an additional plus factor of really showing how Syracuse can lead the nation in a major athletic forum, with an A.D. and a leader and a university leader because he'll be a member of my cabinet," Cantor said. "He really shows how that opportunity is being realized."
Gross, who was hired as an assistant athletic director at USC in 1991, thanked Athletic Director Mike Garrett for "the opportunity to help restructure and restore a program. We did it together, and he gave me opportunities that normally you wouldn't get. He had a lot of trust in me. It gave me the things that I needed to know to go on and run another athletic department."
Gross said he would begin evaluating Syracuse's athletic program immediately and would attend the Champs Sports Bowl game between Syracuse and Georgia Tech on Tuesday. Gross said, however, he probably would not be at Syracuse full time until late January, after top-ranked USC has played No. 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, this season's bowl championship series title game.
Gross deflected speculation that he would hire a USC assistant -- presumably offensive coordinator Norm Chow -- to replace Syracuse football Coach Paul Pasqualoni.
"Every program here is going to be evaluated, just like everywhere else in the country," Gross said. "Our goal is to be the No. 1 program in the country. We won't be satisfied, and I'll tell you Coach P. isn't going to be satisfied, until he reaches a BCS championship game and is in the hunt to play for it."
Said Pasqualoni: "I think Daryl is going to come in and do his job. He has to make an evaluation and he will evaluate football, just as he will evaluate all aspects of the program. I would be surprised if it were any other way."