USC's Cobb Reassigned Off Campus : Administration: He has criticized handling of black athletes. Garrett says he is not being punished.


Marvin Cobb, an assistant athletic director at USC who has been at odds with school administrators over the treatment of black athletes, returned from vacation Friday to discover that he had been transferred off the school's main campus.

Cobb, a football and baseball star at USC in the early 1970s, said Friday he received a letter from the school telling him to report Monday to Ferman L. Vigil, senior associate dean for business affairs for the School of Medicine. Cobb will work at the USC Health Sciences Center, located at the L.A. County Medical Center.

The transfer comes a week after Cobb was featured in a Sports Illustrated article in which he discussed problems some black athletes face in gaining counseling and tutoring at USC.

Cobb said the letter did not state what his new duties would be.

Mike Garrett, associate athletic director at USC, said the transfer was not punishment for Cobb's views. Instead, Cobb was moved to allow him to continue working at the school in a nonathletic role, Garrett said.

Garrett said USC officials tried to be fair in handling Cobb, who he characterized as making "accusations complaining about his work."

Said Cobb: "It would seem apparent that the athletic department leadership doesn't want me to work there. I was hired to work with student athletes. That's the work that I love more than any other. That's why I've taken the steps and measures I've taken. To not be in close contact with them, to help, support, advise and guide them, I'll miss that."

Cobb has been a controversial figure within Heritage Hall, USC's athletic department building, since he publicly voiced complaints about the plight of black athletes more than two years ago.

In the Sports Illustrated article, Cobb summed up his grievances: "USC, like many schools, is a virtual black-athlete factory running on quarter speed. They go out and sell those kids on the Trojan family, that a USC degree will mean the world. Yet they don't have the proper resources to make it an even chance for the kids they recruit."

Cobb also filed a racial discrimination suit last November against the university alleging that Athletic Director Mike McGee denied him a promised promotion because of his views, which were first voiced to administrators.

Besides academic counseling, Cobb was in charge of USC's drug-testing program, which was the subject of a Times story last January that said some football players were able to avoid drug testing through trickery.

Cobb played six seasons in the NFL and spent four years with IBM before becoming USC's assistant athletic director in 1986.

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