Pat Haden officially will begin his duties as USC's athletic director today, pledging to bring a "culture of compliance" to an athletic department tarnished by NCAA sanctions.
"The first order of business is really to understand how this place works," said Haden, announced July 20 to replace Mike Garrett by C.L. Max Nikias, who will become USC's president today. Garrett had been the athletic director since 1993.
"I've been around USC for a long, long time, but not really involved with athletics. As a trustee you never want to interfere with the running of the institution."
Haden had been a member of USC's Board of Trustees from 1991, until resigning to become athletic director.
Haden takes over an athletic department that will be on probation for four years due to NCAA violations, in large part because of improper benefits given to former star running back Reggie Bush and his family.
The university filed an appeal with the NCAA in June, insisting that it was being too harshly punished. The Trojans football team was banned from bowl games for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and stripped of 10 scholarships for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Haden said USC teams will "be passionate about winning, but we want to win ethically."
"We want to win the correct way, which we will," Haden said. "We're going to play within the rules."
The athletic department will "start the day and finish the day with compliance, without taking away the competitive edge and spirit that we have," Haden said.
Haden said another goal is developing "young athletes here in such a way they have real joy and not just be robots here and not just be 24/7 athletes."
"I know our coaches want our kids focused 24/7," Haden said. "I would like to see them have a broader college experience.
"This is a great university. There are a lot of things going on here. Things are percolating every corner."
Haden said he also wants to "have the best and more robust collection of women's programs in the country."
Haden said he twice turned down offers from Nikias to become athletic director, but accepted at the urging of his wife, Cindy.
"She said, 'You know what Pat, you're 57. This will be a nice challenge for you, a different phase of your life,'" Haden said.
Haden spent the past 22 years as a partner with the venture capital firm Riordan, Lewis and Haden, whose other partners include former Mayor Richard Riordan. He had also been a television football analyst since 1982, including the past 12 seasons on NBC's Notre Dame football telecasts.
Haden was the Trojans starting quarterback in 1973 and 1974, helping lead USC to Pacific-8 Conference championships both seasons and a share of the national championship in 1974.
Haden graduated from USC magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and was a Rhodes Scholar and two-time Academic All-American.
Haden played for the Southern California Sun of the World Football League in 1975 and the Los Angeles Rams from 1976-81.
Haden will receive a joint faculty appointment in the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He will work with faculty to design new curricula in areas such as sports business and sports journalism and be available to lecture and teach courses.
"I'm going to make mistakes," Haden said. "I'm going to do some stupid things, but I'm going to give it every ounce of energy and every piece of me to be as successful as we possibly can."