Senior Shake-Up: USC Parts Ways With Three Longtime Athletics Execs
Three of USC's most senior officials in the athletic department "are out," their removals stemming in part from "concerns over recent turmoil, including the 'Varsity Blues' cash-for-admissions scandal," according to Kartje & Fenno of the L.A. TIMES. Among the dismissed execs: Senior Associate AD, COO & CFO Steve Lopes, who has "long been considered second in command," along with Senior Associate AD/Trojan Athletic Fund Ron Orr and Associate AD Scott Jacobson, who "worked with Orr in development and fundraising." Yesterday's moves also "come because of the desire of new athletic department leadership to bring in its own people." A "shake-up" of the department's senior leadership has been "anticipated" since AD Mike Bohn's hiring in November. Lopes, Orr and Jacobson "haven't been charged or mentioned publicly by authorities in connection with the 'Varsity Blues' investigation," but they were "referenced in a slew of internal USC emails." Lopes' exit, after 35 years in the department, "sends a clear message of change at the start of a new era for Trojan athletics" (L.A. TIMES, 1/15).
DEPARTMENT MAKEOVER: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes "separated, resigned, fired, whatever," these three officials have left USC in what "could be the first stage of a remodeling that could eventually reach the football team." With USC being the only school targeted in both FBI college athletics probes in the last 18 months, Bohn "didn't want a new coach to have to suddenly be hit with questions about legal issues out of his control." The university's goal to "get the feds out of its athletic offices cannot be overstated." That has "always been their first priority," and that is "why Bohn was hired" (L.A. TIMES, 1/15). THE ATHLETIC's Antonio Morales noted considering USC's athletic department has been "riddled with scandal in recent years," it was "expected that changes would be on their way eventually." Bohn "started laying the foundation" for these changes last month, when he hired Senior Associate AD & Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna, an inaugural SBJ "New Voices Under 30" honoree. Sosna will play an "influential role in the athletic department moving forward," and at age 27, his arrival "adds a different perspective to the higher levels of the athletic department" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/14).