Lynn Swann’s time as USC’s athletic director has come to an end.
USC president Carol Folt announced Monday that Swann has resigned from his position and that Dave Roberts, a special advisor for Folt, will be the school’s interim AD until a new hire is made.
Swann’s resignation is effective immediately.
“I am writing to share my sincere appreciation for Lynn Swann, who has decided to resign from his position as the Director of Athletics effective today. Lynn has been a leader on and off the field at USC for nearly five decades, and he will forever be a valued member of the Trojan family,” Folt wrote in a message addressed to the “Trojan Community.”
“Lynn has led our Athletics Department to five national championships in five different women’s and men’s sports during his tenure. Our student-athletes’ cumulative GPA for the past two years and our graduation rate of 86% last year were all-time highs for USC Athletics. We appreciate Lynn’s leadership of the department over these past three years and will continue to be grateful for his historic contributions to USC.”
Folt, whose first day on the job was July 1, has assembled a committee to conduct a national search for Swann’s replacement. The school’s last three athletic directors — Swann, Haden and Mike Garrett — played football for the Trojans.
Swann’s tenure plagued by scandals
Swann played football for the Trojans in the 1970’s before a Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite having no significant experience in collegiate athletic administration, Swann succeeded Pat Haden as the school’s athletic director in 2016 but his tenure has been full of on-field failures and off-field scandals.
Last year, Swann made the surprising decision to keep USC football coach Clay Helton after the Trojans went 5-7 — the program’s first losing season since 2000. Before that, he gave Helton a lucrative contract extension through the 2023 season.
Things got worse this year when Swann’s athletic department became entrenched in a massive college admissions scandal that saw USC executive athletics administrator Donna Heinel allegedly take more than $1 million in bribes and several other USC coaches, all of whom were fired, charged with racketeering. On top of that, USC assistant men’s basketball coach Tony Bland was arrested in the federal college basketball corruption investigation and the program could face NCAA sanctions.
As noted by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, Swann’s departure has been an expected outcome.
Lynn Swann's "resignation" at USC comes as little surprise in the industry. USC had been putting out third-party feelers to high-profile potential replacements for weeks. Only surprise was that he wasn't out sooner.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 9, 2019
What does this mean for Clay Helton?
Helton, whose job status was already tenuous, could be on even shakier ground if USC’s next AD wants to hire his or her own head football coach — as most AD’s do.
USC is 2-0 to open the 2019 season despite losing starting quarterback J.T. Daniels to a season-ending knee injury. In his place, true freshman Kedon Slovis led the Trojans to an impressive 45-20 victory over No. 23 Stanford on Saturday night.
Next, USC travels to BYU before facing No. 11 Utah, No. 23 Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame. Both the Washington and Notre Dame games are on the road, but the Trojans have a bye week in between.
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