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Pat Haden is USC's new athletic director

The former Trojans quarterback and academic All-American takes over for Mike Garrett, who held the post for 17 years and is expected to retire. Garrett came under fire after the NCAA levied major sanctions against USC.

July 20, 2010|By Gary Klein and Bill Dwyre

In the wake of a rules scandal that resulted in some of the stiffest penalties in college sports history, USC on Tuesday announced that former Trojans football great Pat Haden would replace Mike Garrett as athletic director and that the university would return its copy of Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy.

Haden's appointment becomes official Aug. 3 and was made by incoming university President Max Nikias, who will take over from Steven Sample two days earlier.

Nikias also ordered that all displays recognizing Bush and former basketball star O.J. Mayo, the athletes at the center of the rules violations, be removed from campus, the Galen Center and at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Bush and Mayo are now professional athletes. Their USC coaches, Pete Carroll in football and Tim Floyd in basketball, have left the university for other jobs. By removing Garrett, the presiding administrator during one of the most embarrassing spans in the school's proud sports history, Nikias begins his era with a clean slate.

The NCAA, the governing body for college sports, announced in June that USC was being placed on four years' probation, banned from football bowl games for two years and would receive a major reduction in football scholarships along with other penalties. It also cited the university for an overall "lack of institutional control" of its athletic program.

On the same day the sanctions were announced, Garrett raised eyebrows during a speaking engagement at a Northern California Trojan Club function when he told the gathering, "As I read the decision by the NCAA, I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans."

Later, sounding none the more contrite, he added, "Today I got a purpose for really wanting to dominate for another 10 years."

In another recent misstep under Garrett's watch, a university compliance official sent a letter to the Pacific 10 Conference claiming that representatives from several rival schools had tried to coax away top freshman running back Dillon Baxter. After Baxter said those allegations were unfounded, Garrett apologized to the schools.

Garrett, 66, guided USC's multimillion-dollar sports enterprise for 17 years. He was unavailable for comment Tuesday but is expected to take the school's retirement package.

"I thank Mr. Garrett, USC's first Heisman Trophy winner and a tireless advocate of USC athletics, for his work on behalf of our Trojan family," Nikias said in a letter posted on the school's website.

While praising Garrett's leadership and work as a fundraiser — USC won nearly two dozen national championships, built the Galen Center and raised $375 million in gifts and donations for athletics during his tenure — Nikias left little doubt that the university had received a loud and clear wake-up call from the NCAA.

In addition to the change at the top, the incoming university president announced a sweeping overhaul of the school's athletic compliance efforts, which are designed to assure that its sports programs are operating within rules.

"There will be a close collaboration among the athletic compliance office, the athletic department and the provost's office," Nikias said.

Among the changes:

—David M. Roberts, an attorney with more than 30 years of litigation experience, has been hired as vice president for athletic compliance. "I believe this is the first position of its kind in the nation," Nikias said.

—Ellen Ferris, former associate provost of athletic compliance, will be associate vice president for athletic compliance.

—Clare Pastore, of the USC Gould School of Law, has been appointed as the school's faculty athletic representative.

—The school has hired The Freeh Group International, headed by former federal judge and FBI director Louis J. Freeh, to "assess the current athletic department programs and processes," and recommend changes.

Haden, 57, becomes USC's seventh athletic director.

"I hope to be part of our stabilization process now," said Haden, who met Tuesday afternoon with several coaches on campus.

Meeting with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Haden said his main goals were to "compete ferociously and win in every sport," but do it "ethically and within the rules." Haden said he wanted to have a "culture of compliance here and have the best compliance department in the country." He also spoke of fielding a strong women's athletic program.

But compliance was the watchword.

"We have to do better," he said. "We don't have any choices here. We stub our toe, we've got even more problems."

Haden played quarterback and was part of national championship USC teams in 1972 and 1974 under coach John McKay; he was the starter in 1974. He was twice an academic All-American and spent parts of 1975-78 — while a quarterback for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams — as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, England.

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