article by Zach Helfand via latimes.com
When former Trojans quarterback Pat Haden was hired as USC’s athletic director in 2010, the university’s marquee sports programs were in deep trouble, having been hammered by NCAA sanctions for rules violations.
On Wednesday, USC chose another of its former football stars, Lynn Swann, to succeed Haden. Swann’s main task — to restore luster to football, USC’s signature sport — will be challenging but not nearly as daunting as that faced by Haden upon his arrival.
Swann, a member of the college and pro football halls of fame, is the third consecutive Trojans football player to lead USC’s athletics program; Haden’s predecessor, Mike Garrett, was a Heisman Trophy-winning running back.
The storied football program, which claims 11 national championships and produces millions in annual revenue, has been in a state of upheaval since former coach Pete Carroll left just before the NCAA imposed its penalties. The Trojans have had four head coaches since Carroll’s departure in 2009 to lead the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
Now, the team has a new coach, Clay Helton, who is under a long-term contract and again has all its scholarships, plus a relatively new state-of-the-art football facility and a home field that will be undergoing a $270-million face-lift.
Swann’s appointment was announced in a letter from university President C.L. Max Nikias to the campus community on Wednesday. In it, Nikias predicted Swann would “bring the heart and soul of a Trojan to his position.”
Swann, 64, will be formally introduced during a news conference on campus Thursday morning. In a statement released after Nikias’ announcement, Swann said his goals for USC athletes would be to “graduate, to win and to experience.”
Swann was a star receiver for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, but his experience in major college administration, or lack thereof, drew substantial criticism in the wake of USC’s announcement. Yahoo sports columnist Pat Forde referred to USC as “The University of Self Congratulation.” Another noted that he couldn’t find that the former Pittsburgh Steelers star had “been doing anything the past decade.”