AD Mike Garrett of USC Needs to Step Up, Not Back

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJune 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 12:  Athletic Director Mike Garrett of USC looks on during the women's volleyball match between the Stanford Cardinal and the Southern California Trojans on October 12, 2006 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.  The volleyball match was the first event held in the new arena, which will also be home to USC's men's and women's basketball and men's volleyball teams.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

I usually write about USC Football and rarely about the Trojans' basketball program. However, the recent resignation of head basketball coach Tim Floyd, in the midst of allegations that he paid off one of O.J. Mayo's handlers, affects both programs and perhaps the entire athletic department.

The NCAA has combined the Mayo allegations with the previous allegations against Reggie Bush and his family into one large-scale investigation of the athletics program at USC.

So far, athletic director Mike Garrett has failed to step up and address any of the charges. Even in this most recent incident of Floyd’s resignation, Garrett had an assistant issue a statement.

The only comment out of his department regarding any of these charges is that the university is cooperating in every way with the NCAA investigations but cannot comment on any of the allegations.

Perhaps that is understandable, but somewhere along the line—and I’m afraid that line may have already passed—Garrett must step up and address some of the recent occurrences that have caused even the most devout USC alumnus and fan to wonder what is taking place.

Several players have left the team and opted for the NBA draft. Perhaps only two of them stand the remotest chance of ever making it in the NBA. Certainly a couple of them decided to leave anyway, knowing their chances of an NBA career were slim and none. Garrett needs to step up and address this.

Several of Floyd’s recruits have de-committed. That is understandable, but still, Garrett needs to address this as well.

Garrett also needs to explain why Floyd’s letter of resignation was published in the Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi) before it even reached his desk. Or had it reached his desk, and he withheld the announcement?

Finally, Garrett needs to make it quite clear that his next hire is not about wins and losses, but about integrity. He must make it perfectly clear that the next hire is not only about basketball but also about building character. He needs to emphatically promise that the person he chooses will lead by example.

Then Garrett must go out and fulfill this promise by picking a person of exemplary character who is beyond reproach. But this has not been an easy thing for Garrett to do over the years.

Even his hires of Floyd and Pete Carroll were not his original choices. Carroll wasn’t even on his short list. It was Carroll himself who initiated the contact.

Hiring a no-nonsense coach of strong character may help lessen the extent of any impending sanctions on the basketball team and the athletic program in general.

Do I think it’s an impossible job to fill? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. The new coach will get at least a two-year pass due to the mess that Floyd left. The next coach will also have one of the finest state-of-the-art facilities in the country, the Galen Center, to begin rebuilding the program.

Some names are already being thrown out there by the media, including former Sacramento Kings and New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus, former Seattle Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, and St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett

At least one ESPN commentator mentioned former Indiana and Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight, now a college basketball analyst with ESPN.

One other suggestion that would lessen the extent of any impending NCAA sanctions is for USC President Steven B. Sample to start compiling his own short list of strong character, beyond reproach decision makers to replace Mike Garrett.

Too much has gone down on Garrett’s watch, I’m afraid, and he has only stepped up when it has been time to receive a trophy. When controversy has arisen, he always seems to step back behind a stone wall.  Maybe this time he should step down.

Let's here from USC and other college basketball fans.  Do you think MIke Garrett should step down?  Who should USC hire as the next basketball coach?  Do you think Tim Floyd will eventaully be exonerated or not?