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As Lynn Swann enters, J.K. McKay, another USC legend, exits

As Lynn Swann enters, J.K. McKay, another USC legend, exits
J.K. McKay is no longer USC's senior associate athletic director. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The first day of USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann's tenure, July 1, coincided with the last day for another USC fixture, J.K. McKay.

McKay, USC's senior associate athletic director, is no longer part of the program, McKay and USC confirmed Thursday.

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"He is in the process of transitioning to another job" unaffiliated with the university, said Tim Tessalone, USC's sports information director.

McKay, 63, said his job with the university ended the day Swann assumed the athletic director job from Pat Haden.

"I think it was just time," McKay said. "I felt like Lynn, coming in, he needed to have his own group. I came in with Pat, and I am proud of what we did. It just felt like time."

McKay's status had been uncertain after Haden announced he would step down. A lifelong friend, high school teammate and college roommate to Haden, McKay became the athletic director's most trusted lieutenant. McKay was among Haden's first calls after he was tabbed for the job in 2010.

"I remember exactly what I said," McKay told The Times shortly afterward. "You're going to do what?"

Soon after the call, McKay left his job at the Century City law firm Jeffer, Mangels, Butler and Marmaro to work with Haden. His decision didn't take long. He was gone in an hour.

McKay and Haden navigated potentially crippling sanctions levied against the football team. In the beginning of his tenure, McKay worked closely with then-coach Lane Kiffin. It was McKay who, at 4 a.m after a loss at Arizona State, informed Kiffin that Haden wanted a word. Kiffin stepped off the team bus into a private airport waiting room. There, Haden told the coach he was fired.

McKay has been around USC for most of his life. He is the eldest son of legendary USC coach John McKay, whose name adorns the 110,000-square-foot football facility next to Heritage Hall. As a player, he was a standout receiver.

"I will always love USC," McKay said.

Haden, who will remain with USC to oversee the $270-million renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, will work out of the development office, according to Tessalone, meaning he is no longer part of the athletic department.

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand

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