LOS ANGELES – Embattled Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett will be replaced by Pat Haden next month, and the school will return its copy of Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy in its ongoing effort to repair its reputation after last month's severe NCAA sanctions.
In a letter to school supporters Tuesday, incoming USC president Max Nikias said Garrett will be replaced Aug. 3 by Haden, a respected member of USC's board of trustees and an NBC football analyst.
The 66-year-old Garrett has been the Trojans' athletic director for 17 years, but he received caustic criticism for his handling of the scandals surrounding USC's powerful football team and other programs over the past several years. The NCAA hit USC with major sanctions last month, including a two-year bowl ban and scholarship restrictions.
Nikias, who takes his own new job Aug. 3, also said USC will return Bush's trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust next month, possibly indicating the trophy will be revoked in the future. The school will take down any jerseys or murals recognizing the former star tailback or basketball player O.J. Mayo, the other major figure in the four-year NCAA investigation.
"The Trojan Family honors and respects the USC sporting careers of those persons whose actions did not compromise their athletic program or the opportunities of future USC student-athletes," Nikias said.
Bush's Heisman has been on display in Heritage Hall alongside its copies of the Heismans won by Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Charles White and Marcus Allen.
Both Garrett and Haden are former USC football players. Garrett won the Heisman Trophy in 1965, while Haden was the Trojans' starting quarterback for three years under coach John McKay.
Haden is firmly ensconced in Trojan lore. In 1974, he led a 55-24 victory over Notre Dame still known at the school as "The Comeback," while his late heroics in the 1975 Rose Bowl, including a last-minute touchdown pass and two-point conversion throw, gave USC an 18-17 win over Ohio State.
While praising Garrett's work in rebuilding the USC football program and shepherding construction of the Galen Center basketball arena on campus, Nikias said the USC athletic department under his presidency "will seek to excel in the coming years in a manner that is consistent with the highest values" of the school.
The NCAA criticized USC last month for a lack of institutional control. The phrase was a direct swipe at Garrett, who initially received praise for unexpectedly hiring coach Pete Carroll to lead a dominant decade for the Trojans' football team, including seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships. Carroll abruptly left USC earlier this year to take over the Seattle Seahawks.
"Wish pat haden the very best in taking over as USC AD!" Carroll wrote on his Twitter account. "I'll support in any way. Congrats!"
Garrett has been mostly unapologetic in the face of the Trojans' NCAA problems, even saying last month that the NCAA's ruling revealed "a lot of envy" of the Trojans. Two weeks ago, Garrett was forced to send a letter of apology to five schools after falsely accusing them of breaking NCAA rules by contacting star tailback recruit Dillon Baxter about transferring.
Nikias also said the school will hire David M. Roberts as a vice president for athletic compliance, putting nine people in USC's athletic compliance office. The Trojans are dramatically beefing up their compliance department, adding several employees to keep their eyes on new football coach Lane Kiffin's team and the rest of the program.
Haden was a Rhodes Scholar during his tenure at USC, and he studied at Oxford during parts of his pro career with the Los Angeles Rams, where he started at quarterback regularly from 1976-81. Haden also broadcasts Notre Dame football games for NBC — a job he'll obviously have to quit — and is a partner in a private investment firm.
"It is absolutely unsurprising and typical that Pat would want to be there for his beloved alma mater in a time of need," said Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics. "His integrity, his talent and his engaging manner are just what the Trojans need."
USC appealed some of the sanctions against the program on June 25, seeking to cut in half its bowl ban and scholarship restrictions. A ruling on the appeal isn't likely until several months into 2011, and the Trojans already agreed to serve a bowl ban in the upcoming season.