Dear Fellow Trojan:
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Pat Haden, who has announced his intention to retire from his role as athletic director, effective June 30, 2016. I ask you to join me in thanking this Trojan legend for his leadership during a historic moment of transition for Trojan Athletics.
I am also pleased to report that Pat has agreed to a one-year term to guide our renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2017, he will maintain an office in the Bovard Administration Building, working closely with me and reporting directly to me as he heads a fundraising initiative focused on renewing the nation’s most venerable stadium and the home of Trojan football.
In the summer of 2010, Pat stepped away from his longtime role as a trustee of the university in order to take the helm of USC Athletics, which bonds our Trojan Family together across continents and generations. He took on this role at a time when the department faced unprecedented pressure, externally and internally, requiring nothing less than a Herculean effort to rebuild its foundation for the long term. USC Athletics had received NCAA penalties of unprecedented harshness only weeks earlier; and its physical and academic infrastructure urgently required improvement to bring it in line with the university’s overall dramatic progress in recent years.
Pat has accomplished USC’s objectives here through his distinct blend of integrity, energy, wisdom, and character. He moved into Heritage Hall on August 3, 2010, the same day I stepped into the USC presidency. And during a time in which intercollegiate athletics has been undergoing unpredictable transformation at a national level, Pat developed and executed a blueprint for how athletics and academics can reinforce one another at an academically elite private research university with a public-minded mission.
Working with Dave Roberts, vice president of athletics compliance, Pat has created a model for NCAA compliance at a top intercollegiate athletics program, especially one such as ours, which operates under the brightest of spotlights. Together, they have strengthened compliance during one of the most volatile and high-stakes periods in Trojan Athletics’ history.
The disproportionate severity of the NCAA penalties on Trojan football, which Pat inherited on his first day as athletic director, posed an unprecedented short- and long-term challenge; indeed, every other program facing the same penalties ended up enduring losing seasons, lengthy rebuilding processes, or both. Because of Pat’s leadership during the sanctions period, USC came through it with the third-best record in the Pac-12.
His adamantine priority has been the growth and academic success of each and every USC student-athlete—and, as a consequence, he has improved student-athlete grade point averages and graduation rates to all-time highs.
Pat has pursued long-term goals without sacrificing the near-term goals of the Trojans being as competitive as possible in every arena. Over the past five years, USC teams have won 10 national championships, a figure exceeded only by the University of Florida’s 11 during that same period. We also have celebrated four Honda Sports Award winners, 32 individual national championships, 274 All-American first-team selections, three Crosstown Cup trophies, and 25 medals by Trojan athletes at the London Olympics. Our men and women basketball teams have been gradually rebuilt into exciting programs that have gained national attention.
Pat introduced two new sports for women—lacrosse and beach volleyball—to USC’s athletics constellation, and both rapidly achieved excellence. The former earned an NCAA berth in only its third year of existence, and the latter won national championships this year in both teams and pairs competition.
Significantly, Pat raised the support necessary to strengthen the base of Trojan Athletics for decades to come. He has raised more than $400 million during his tenure—an all-time high for USC over such a span. This fundraising total has allowed us to provide the facilities and support befitting the world’s best student-athletes, and it also includes commitments for the crucial work of renovating the Coliseum.
Our campus now bears Pat Haden’s stamp in perpetuity. The state-of-the-art John McKay Center stands as both a monument to our athletic heritage and a nurturing ground for future excellence. Its opening in 2012 announced to the world that USC intends to be the single greatest destination for those who aspire to make their mark athletically, academically, and in their communities. Heritage Hall has been renovated dramatically. The Uytengsu Center has given us a world-class home for our aquatic sports teams. We have constructed the Merle Norman Stadium for our new sand volleyball team, we have established the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, and we have repaired playing and practice fields for numerous sports.
Pat integrated the athletic department more completely into the life of the larger university than ever before. This has allowed our student-athletes to benefit more fully from USC’s spectacular array of cultural, social, and outside-the-classroom learning experiences.
He has also integrated Trojan Athletics more fully into the life of USC’s surrounding neighborhoods. He created the first endowment within any athletic department to support community service. Virtually all USC athletes now volunteer their time for such service: they collectively volunteer more than 4,000 hours through more than 300 events held annually.
In addition, Pat improved our working relationships with the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference, and he provided leadership at the national level through his service on the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
Going forward, I will be working closely with Nick Brill, principal and co-founder of the Brill Neumann executive search firm, to identify USC’s next athletic director. His firm brings valuable experience working with USC, and me directly, on previous executive searches, including senior vice president positions. The process will be national in scope, with all proceedings held in the strictest confidence, for the benefit of USC Athletics and all qualified candidates.
I ask that you forward nominations to USCAthleticDirector@brillneumann.com. And I ask you again to join me in thanking Pat Haden for his service as athletic director and his commitment to spend the following year dedicated to the fundraising initiative for the restoration of our beloved Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
C. L. Max Nikias