Lynn Swann Resigns as USC Athletic Director; Dave Roberts Named Interim AD

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Athletic director Lynn Swann of the USC Trojans stands on the sidelines during the game against the Utah Utes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Lynn Swann resigned from his position as USC athletic director, university president Carol Folt announced Monday.

According to Scott Wolf of InsideUSC, Dave Roberts will take over on an interim basis.

Swann replaced Pat Haden as the AD in April 2016. Prior to embarking on a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Swann was a star on the USC football team and helped the Trojans win a national title in 1972.

The Athletic's Bruce Feldman reported the school "had already been reaching out to prospective AD candidates to gauge interest in recent weeks."

Many were surprised when USC named Swann as Haden's successor given his lack of experience in an administrative role on this scale.

For Swann's critics, the state of the football program was likely enough to justify his resignation.

After winning 23 games in Clay Helton's first two full seasons, USC went 5-7 in 2018. In addition to their issues on the field, the Trojans were struggling to attract the blue-chip recruits they'd seemingly land every year. USC was 20th in 247Sports' composite team rankings for 2019 and sits 43rd for 2020.

Swann announced last November that Helton would be back for the 2019 season.

The Kliff Kingsbury saga didn't paint the Trojans in a flattering light either, as Kingsbury spent a little more than a month as the offensive coordinator before leaving to coach the Arizona Cardinals.

Under Swann's watch, USC was also embroiled in the college admissions scandal that saw parents funnel money to coaches and university officials in order to get their children accepted and enrolled.

Folt told Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times the scandal "was not a part of the decision" leading to Swann's resignation.

Prosecutors alleged Jovan Vavic, USC's former men's and women's water polo coach, participated in and profited from the scheme along with Donna Heinel, a USC associate athletic director who was also fired. Swann told the Los Angeles Times' Arash Markazi in March he was "blindsided" upon hearing of the allegations:

"The fact that it was a senior member of the staff and also our men's and women's head water polo coach. … These are people that have been here a long time and people who had been here during difficult times and had seen bad things done and knew better. Everyone was completely shocked, caught off guard and taken by surprise."

The combined departures of Swann and Heinel will allow USC to effectively reset the athletic department.

Whatever direction USC goes in terms of Swann's successor, getting the football program back on track will likely be a top priority.

Helton was on the hot seat already, with Swann setting a Pac-12 championship as the goal for this season. Considering starting quarterback J.T. Daniels is out for the year with a torn ACL and meniscus, claiming a conference title might be a bridge too far.

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