Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann

USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann resigned Sept. 9 amid an admissions bribery scandal that has rocked the university's athletic department.

Swann’s resignation was announced in a letter from new USC President Carol Folt to the USC community and the media. The letter said the resignation was effective immediately.

Folt asked special adviser Dave Roberts to serve as interim athletic director until a permanent replacement can be found, the letter said.

She also announced that USC Trustee Suzanne Nora Johnson, a corporate attorney and former corporate executive, would lead the board’s eight-member search committee to replace Swann. Also serving on the committee is USC Board Chairman and shopping mall magnate Rick Caruso.

This is Folt's first major administrative move since assuming the president post July 1. Her arrival followed a tumultuous year at the school, with multiple scandals prompting the resignation of longtime President C.L. Max Nikias. The school will hold formal inauguration ceremonies for Folt next week.

Swann, a star wide receiver for the USC Trojans in the early 1970s who went on help the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers win four Super Bowl championships, was hired as USC’s athletic director in 2016, succeeding Pat Haden, who retired to pursue business interests.

Under Swann’s leadership, USC won five national championships in different sports and a record 86% of student-athletes earned their degrees. However, during the 2018-19 academic year, the athletic department’s marquee programs — men’s football and men’s basketball — both posted losing records for the first time since 1983-84.

Swann’s tenure was marred by the college admissions bribery scandal that ensnared two underlings. Donna Heinel, the senior woman administrator in the athletic department, and head water polo coach Jovan Vavic were indicted by the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues investigation. Both were fired by the university within days after the probe became public.

Also indicted were two former women’s soccer coaches, Ali Khosroshahin and Laura Janke. The latter pleaded guilty in May to racketeering charges. At the time, Swann came under criticism for failing to institute sufficient oversight procedures to flag potential violations of school policies.

Education, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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