There have been various rumblings throughout the offseason, reported on not only this website but ones such as our buddy SportsByBrooks, that Mike Garrett was not long for his role as director of athletics at USC.
The rumblings grew even louder in the wake of NCAA and self-imposed sanctions against both the football and basketball programs. Then, Garrett climbed up into a backhoe and started to help dig his own hole even deeper with his misguided and ill-conceived “Trojan envy” blast in the aftermath of the sanctions announcement.
Today, all those rumblings came home to roost.
As Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times first reported, Garrett is out as USC’s athletic director effective Aug. 3. And, in a move that will certainly play well amongst Trojan Nation, former USC quarterback Pat Haden will grab the reins of the beleaguered department moving forward.
An official announcement from president-elect Max Nikias announcing the move was released Tuesday afternoon.
Garrett, who spent the last 17 years as AD and was a Heisman Trophy-winning running back at ‘SC, is expected to take a retirement package.
As for Haden, the Board of Trustees member said he was approached by Nikias recently and was asked to take over for Garrett. After a period of time, including getting the thumbs up from his better half, Haden agreed to climb aboard a listing athletic ship and turn around whatever culture caused the university to find itself in this situation in the first place.
“This is not something I thought about doing, nor something even on my radar,” Haden told the paper. “But I began to see it as a challenge, as something new. And when my wife agreed — and she really doesn’t follow sports closely — I took a closer look.
“One of the reasons I was interested,” Haden said, “was Max Nikias. He is a supporter of USC athletics and is keenly interested in the school’s athletic heritage.”
Given Haden’s utter love for his alma mater, and his squeaky-clean image since leaving Heritage Hall, this is an absolute slam-dunk, home-run hire by the school, one that will go a long way in putting salve on the wounds created by — either directly or indirectly — the latter stages of Garrett’s tenure at the university.
The 57-year-old Haden has been the color commentator on NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame football for the past 12 years, but he made his sports mark at USC long before he became a part of the Irish’s broadcast arm.
Haden was a two-time Academic All-American while at USC, and was named co-MVP of the Trojans’ Rose Bowl win in 1975. He was a three-year starter under head coach John McKay, taking part in two national titles and three Rose Bowls.
Haden graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from USC; also, Haden was a Rhodes Scholar and played professional football for six years following his collegiate career.
Additionally, Haden received a doctorate from the Loyola Law School and, for more than 20 years, he has been a general partner of Riordan, Lewis & Haden, a private equity firm which invests in high-growth middle market companies.
In order to assume his new responsibilities as USC’s athletic director, Haden has resigned from his post as a member of the USC Board of Trustees, which he joined in 1991.