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.
FOR THE RECORD:
Mike Garrett: A chart with an article in Wednesday’s Section A about Pat Haden’s replacing Mike Garrett as USC athletic director said that Garrett had played eight seasons in the National Football League. His first four years of professional football were in the American Football League, his second four in the NFL after the leagues merged. —
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.
Haden, a partner in the private investment firm Riordan, Lewis & Haden, was also on the board of directors of Indymac Bank, which was the largest savings and loan association in the Los Angeles area before its collapse in 2008.
Haden has been a member of the USC board of trustees for 19 years, a position he will resign to become athletic director. Haden also will no longer broadcast Notre Dame football games for NBC, a job he has held for 12 years.
Haden said he was approached by Nikias about becoming athletic director about six weeks ago, but expressed no interest.
“This is not something I thought about doing, nor something even on my radar,” Haden said. But over the next couple of weeks, he started to change his mind. “I began to see it as a challenge, as something new. And when my wife agreed — and she really doesn’t follow sports closely — I took a closer look.”
Haden said one of his first moves would be to create the position of associate athletic director for football, a liaison to new head Coach Lane Kiffin, and fill it with J.K. McKay. McKay, an attorney who is a son of John McKay, was a receiver for Haden at La Puente Bishop Amat High and USC.
“He’s the right person for the job,” Haden said. “I’ve known him since we were both 14 years old. He is one of the smartest, most ethical people I know, and I trust him completely.
“Our goal will be to compete ferociously but also ethically,” Haden said. “There are plenty of models for that out there. Winning any way other than the right way is not winning at all.”
He said his guideline on that has never changed — that he would never do anything he knew would embarrass his mother.
“She’s no longer alive,” he said, “but that doesn’t change my rule.”
Haden said that, as a member of the board of trustees, he steered clear of most things involving athletics. He added, “I would give Mike Garrett pretty good grades. For the most part, USC stayed out of trouble.”
But the recent penalties, costing USC scholarships, victories and championships, as well as crucial TV exposure and revenue, triggered a push among prominent alumni for Garrett to be removed in favor of the highly respected Haden.
Haden said that among his main goals for the school’s athletic program would be to increase graduation rates, compete at the highest levels and have athletes be more a part of general university life.
USC athletes said they were aware of rumors and speculation regarding Garrett’s future. Several praised Garrett, the 1965 Heisman winner, for the guidance he provided them personally.
“He helped me a lot,” senior cornerback Shareece Wright said. “Being an athlete, and where he came from, Mr. Garrett understood how a lot of us grew up. He knew where we were coming from.”
Most athletes were unfamiliar with Haden and his USC legacy. But they anticipated changes.
“It definitely will have an effect,” senior basketball player Alex Stepheson said. “How? I’m not sure. But just having a new face in that high of a position will definitely trickle down and affect the major sports programs.”
Haden has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 34 years. He has two daughters, Natalie O’Connor, 31, and Kelly Paulus, 30; two sons, Ryan, 29, and Taylor, 27; and four grandchildren, all boys, with a fifth grandson expected any day.