When I was a student at USC in the late 1990s, USC made a concerted effort to shed itself of the epithets “University of Spoiled Children” or “University of Second Choice.”
The following decade brought national championships, fundraising records and massive construction projects. Time magazine hailed it as College of the Year in 2000, and its U.S. News & World Report ranking was up to 26th by 2010, a USC best. In retrospect, the 2000s seem like USC’s Gilded Age.
In the last 10 years, however, one scandal after another has eroded USC’s credibility and chipped away at its glossy veneer. Starting with the 2010 NCAA football scandals, a crisis of poor leadership led to several back-to-back scandals and attempted cover-ups.
In March 2016, we found out Dr. Carmen Puliafito, dean of the medical school, was involved in a prostitute’s drug overdose and led a drug-fueled double life for years; top brass at USC knew about it all along. When the scandal broke USC’s response was listless; Puliafito even kept his job.
Months later news broke that USC employed a sleazebag criminal gynecologist at the student health clinic for 30 years, during which thousands of young women — hundreds of whom filed complaints — were sexually abused by Dr. George Tyndall. USC knew about his predatory behavior but never reprimanded Tyndall until the scandal broke headlines, at which time the university pled ignorance and tried again to cover it up.
And now we have yet another crisis involving bribes and big payoffs, graft and grift in the admissions and athletics departments, in which venal parents schemed with corrupt officials to get their undeserving children admitted to the school with bribes, cheating and lying.
I am among thousands of alumni that are deeply hurt at USC’s corruption and crisis of leadership. Who knows what other scandal will be in the headlines tomorrow? Next to the pederast-laden Catholic Church, the University of Scandals and Cover-Ups is the most disgraced major institution of our time. Even with its new president, it will be years before USC can begin to repair its tarnished reputation.