Lynn Swann Resigns At USC Amid Changing Leadership Culture
USC President Carol Folt said Lynn Swann, who has resigned as the school's AD, was "very appreciative of the fact" that she had plans to build her own leadership team, according to Ryan Kartje of the L.A. TIMES. Swann was "not part of that vision." Folt, who was hired in March, said she had no "preconceived notions" of Swann or his place in the athletic department's future before she accepted the job. Swann resigned after three "tumultuous years atop one of the nation's most prestigious athletic departments." Since his hiring, the USC athletics department has "faced constant turmoil on and off the field," while questions about Swann's "leadership and his culpability in various scandals have followed him throughout his tenure." Folt said Swann's handling of the nationwide college admissions scandal "was not a part of the decision for me." Former USC VP/Athletics Compliance Dave Roberts, currently a special advisor to Folt, will "become the interim" AD. An 11-person search committee, which will be chaired by USC trustee Suzanne Nora Johnson and "include two student-athletes, has been formed to find Swann's replacement." Folt noted that the search "will not 'necessarily' focus on candidates with experience at USC." Only once in USC's history has an AD been "hired without prior ties to the university." Swann was hired in '16 "without any prior experience in college athletics" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10).
TROUBLED TENURE: In N.Y., Billy Witz writes Swann had a "rocky three-year tenure" at USC, which included the "decision to give the football coach Clay Helton a lengthy contract extension ... and concerns about Swann's responsibility in the scandals that led to the federal investigations." Former USC assistant basketball coach Tony Bland pleaded "guilty in a federal bribery case, and four people associated with USC athletics have been implicated in the nationwide college admissions scandal" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/10).
HEIR OF PROFESSIONALISM: Roberts said that Folt "approached him in the past several days to broach the possibility of him serving" as interim AD. In L.A., Adam Grosbard in a front-page piece notes Roberts "doesn't want to be considered for the full-time position," and instead "views himself as a bridge to the next AD." Roberts said that he "won't be involved in the search itself but shared insight into what USC wants" in its next AD. He said, "They're going to look for somebody who's progressive, practical, pragmatic." Roberts added that there is "no strict timeline for USC to finish the search," and that the school "will not rush into or prolong a decision this time around" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/10).
NEED TO GET THIS ONE RIGHT: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes Folt is about to do what USC "should have done years ago: hire a professional to do a job that the school has wasted on people who didn't know what they were doing." USC has "treated the job of managing a nine-figure budget as if it were captain of the letterman's club." There is "no doubt" USC's last three ADs -- Mike Garrett, Pat Haden and Swann -- were all "successful as alumni, NFL players and in their post-football careers." But "none of them would have been hired to lead an athletic department anywhere but their alma maters, and it showed in the impulsive, naive and disastrous ways they ran USC football into the ground" (USA TODAY, 9/10). In L.A., Bill Plaschke in a front-page piece writes Folt is "smartly beginning a massive overhaul" of the school's athletic department that has "become a national embarrassment." Swann "needed to go," and given his "close ties to the deep-pocketed USC boosters who have been given free rein to run the joint, it took a fresh new voice to finally make that call." Roberts being named interim AD "sends the message that Folt is intent on bypassing tradition and completely reshaping" the school's athletics "from the outside" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10).
NEW HIRE CHECKLIST: In San Jose, Jon Wilner writes USC "must hire someone who understands major college athletics and major college football and did not play for the Trojans and hasn't been on staff during the recent tumult" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde wrote USC has an "opportunity to get over itself and make a capable hire from outside the family" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/9). In L.A., Mark Whicker writes under the header, "USC's Best Option To Replace Lynn Swann Is Not Far Away." Folt "should begin her search" with USC Senior Associate AD, COO & CFO Steve Lopes, who has been with the school since '84, and "ideally, end it there" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/10).