Pat Haden named USC Athletic Director, replacing Mike Garrett

Former Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Pat Haden, poses for a portrait in February of 1986.
Former Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Pat Haden, poses for a portrait in February of 1986.
George Rose

Former USC quarterback Pat Haden was named today as the university's new athletic director, taking over a program reeling from NCAA sanctions.

The new athletic director will take over a program trying to recover from the NCAA sanctions, which were handed down in large part due to improper benefits given to former star running back Reggie Bush and his family. The NCAA ruled that the university showed a lack of institutional control over its athletes and had no
procedures in place to monitor compliance with NCAA rules.

Haden acknowledged the challenges that the sports program will face in the upcoming months.

“I want to have this culture of compliance without putting a damper on. . .the competitive juices and the competitive nature of athletes and athletics," Haden told Alex Cohen in an interview Tuesday. "But as I said, we can do both."

Haden will take the job Aug. 3, replacing the retiring Mike Garrett, a 66-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner who has been USC's athletic director for 17 years, according to incoming USC President C.L. Max Nikias, who will also assume his new position Aug. 3 as well.

As part of his acceptance of the job, Haden resigned his post on the USC Board of Trustees, on which he has served since 1991.

"While many around the country are aware of his prominent role as quarterback and team leader during one of USC's golden eras of athletic achievement, he has played an equally significant leadership role during the university's greatest era of academic growth,'' Nikias wrote in a letter announcing the move. "As the longtime chairman of the Trustees' Academic Affairs and Student Affairs committees, Mr. Haden was a key adviser to two USC provosts, working closely with them on all aspects of the university's teaching and research mission.''

Garrett has come under fire in recent months -- most notably after the university's athletic program was placed on four years probation and the football team was banned from post-season appearances for the next two years due to NCAA violations.

In addition to the two-year ban on post-season play for the football team, the team was also stripped of 10 scholarships for the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

The team was also stripped of all of its wins from games in which Bush played beginning in December 2004.

The university filed an appeal with the NCAA late last month, insisting that it was being too harshly punished.

Nikias went a few steps further, announcing today that he was creating administrative positions aimed at ensuring that athletes comply with NCAA and university regulations.

Nikias named attorney David M. Roberts as USC vice president of athletic compliance, a post Nikias said he believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. He also promoted Ellen Ferris, associate provost for athletic compliance, to associate vice president for athletic compliance.

"There will be a close collaboration among the athletic compliance office, the athletic department and the provost's office,'' Nikias wrote.

Earlier this month, USC law professor Clare Pastore was appointed as the university's faculty athletic representative.

The university previously announced that it was hiring a company led by former FBI director Louis Freeh to assist with athletic compliance. Nikias said the company would also conduct "a thorough assessment of the student-athlete culture at USC.''

The Freeh Group is expected to assess the university's athletic program and processes and make recommendations by the end of September. Its report is expected to include ``recommendations related to ensuring compliance with USC, Pacific 10 and NCAA rules with respect to high-profile student-athletes,'' according to Nikias.

In his announcement, Nikias praised Garrett for his work leading the athletics program.

"Anyone who knows Mike Garrett is aware that no one has been more passionate about the Trojan family and our storied Trojan athletic heritage,'' he wrote. "As athletic director since January 1993, he oversaw 19 men's and women's athletic teams. During his tenure, he recruited outstanding coaches to USC and the university won almost two dozen national championships in men's water polo, tennis, football and baseball and in women's volleyball, water polo, golf, track and field, swimming and diving and soccer.''

Former USC football coach Pete Carroll weighed in on the hire, posting a message on his Twitter page saying, "Wish Pat Haden the very best in taking over as USC AD! I'll support in any way. Congrats!''

Haden led USC to three Rose Bowl appearances and two national titles. He graduated from USC in 1975 and went on to quarterback the Los Angeles Rams from 1976-81. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1977.

He continued his academic career while playing football, studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. He received a law degree from Loyola Law School in 1982.

For the past 22 years, he has been a partner with Riordan, Lewis and Haden -- a venture-capital firm that includes former Mayor Richard Riordan.

"We are most appreciative of Pat's many contributions to the success of both our firm and our portfolio companies over the past two decades,'' said J. Christopher Lewis, co-founder and managing partner of Riordan, Lewis and Haden. "His judgment and perspective have been very helpful as we have grown
the size of our team of investment professionals and the firm's capital under management.

"On a personal note, as a former USC student-athlete, I am enthusiastic about the great skills and experience that Pat brings to his new role and am very confident that he will add yet another successful chapter to his long list of diverse career accomplishments," he said.

In addition to his work with the venture capital firm, Haden was the analyst on NBC's Notre Dame telecast since 1998. From 1990-97, he was an analyst for TNT's Sunday night NFL games, and for CBS from 1982-90.

KPCC wire services contributed to this report.