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State of Troy: March 2017

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Swann on men's basketball's NCAA Tournament run...

usc-basketball-Baylor-NCAA-tournament-2017-mcgillen-Lr-7086.jpgNumber one, I thought the season was terrific. The coaches and players would like to still be playing basketball and have a run at the national championship, but when you look back at it, and you see that they won more games in a season than any other team in the history of USC men's basketball, that is a significant accomplishment. They validated their tournament selection by beating Providence and SMU despite a lot of so-called experts suggesting that they should not have been there. I think the players saw that they had a good chance to beat Baylor and be in the Sweet 16, and so as an athlete, that is why they are disappointed. They are not disappointed in their season, but they know they could have gone further. I hope they all come back and improve and get better because I think there is room for improvement. This was a great experience for them and I was pleased to have been there with them.

Swann on hiring a new women's basketball head coach...

I am very involved with this process. The base skill set requires that any candidate be able to teach, manage, organize and recruit. Beyond that, I am looking for someone who can develop and build relationships to get the most out of the team. You have to be able to reach the student-athletes individually to get them to be better people and better players. Hiring a head coach in today's environment, under NCAA and Pac-12 rules, is not as simple as it used to be because there is so much more you have to do off the court that if you are not prepared and organized, you get behind and it is tough to catch up. So, I am looking for someone who has that experience, mostly former head coaches, but we are still looking for talent, and if I believe that someone who has been an assistant and not been a head coach has that ability, I would not hesitate to bring them in and talk to them.

Swann on No. 1 women's water polo's record-setting 48-match winning streak...

To maintain that type of consistency and excellence, there are two things you need. One, you need the talent to pull it off. But, you also need a coach who can keep that team together and knows how to utilize that talent. Jovan Vavic has so many national championship trophies in his office that it is unbelievable. He is the key. He knows how to recruit and train the right student-athletes to give them the confidence and game plan to succeed. Even when his team does not play its best, they still find a way to win because of their preparation, attention to detail and technique.

Swann on No. 1 beach volleyball...

usc-beach-volleyball-2017-zuma-ucla-mcgillen-7466.jpgI have seen coaches who were driven, and I have seen coaches who were talented. Anna Collier is both. She makes it fun and fresh for her players. I was fortunate enough to see them firsthand on the beach in Malibu defeat Pepperdine and UCLA. Our young women are competitive and willing to get after it 100 percent of the time. I am looking forward to the rest of their season and I expect them to continue to do well and make history.

Swann on spring football...

The first challenge for Clay Helton is to get everybody over the fact that we went to the Rose Bowl and we won. You have to refocus. That was January, and we are now moving forward. The goal is to win the Pac-12 championship. You have to do that first, so that is what we want to get accomplished. We are trying to build the depth with our younger players to get to the level of the playoff teams like Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. We need to be able to rotate players in without losing a level of performance and play. That's what we are striving to do, so that our backup players are not backups but the next guy ready to go in and get the job done.

Swann on the rest of the spring competition...

I am impressed by men's and women's golf, both ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Women of Troy recently won a tournament in Palos Verdes, while I watched the men dominate the field in Las Vegas. Our men's tennis team is in the top 10, while the women have hit a bump in the road, but I expect them to overcome it. Our women's lacrosse team has done very well, going back East and challenging itself against top competition. People are going to see a West Coast team in the East and say, 'I want to be there.' I really like head coach Lindsey Munday's intensity, and she is doing the right thing in terms of her schedule. I see the track and field team every morning working out. The coaches are putting them through their paces, and you can see the enthusiasm about what they have in this team. They had a good indoor season, but the goals are even bigger as the outdoor season begins. And baseball, I enjoyed watching the Trojans at Dodger Stadium, down 3-0 most of the game, come back and beat UCLA in extra innings. If they continue to play with that kind of grit, they will have a great season. Men's volleyball continues to improve, despite some key injuries, and is building for the future. As for our rowing program, they just finished their training camp and I am looking forward to their season and being on the water with them for their competitions. Overall, spring is the busiest time of year, and I think football, women's soccer and men's basketball set the tone with their high-profile success. The enthusiasm is contagious and we are excited to see it spread throughout every sport.

State of Troy: January 2017

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Swann on winning the Rose Bowl Game...

Schedule2.jpgOur head coach Clay Helton did an extraordinary job of keeping the football team together after starting 1-3. We finished the season ranked No. 3 so that sends a powerful message to future Trojans. USC now stands a little taller. We look forward to taking that Rose Bowl win and pushing that success into a great recruiting season and continuing the pursuit of Pac-12 and National Championships.

Click here for 2017 USC football ticket information!

Swann on the 2017 football schedule...

We continue to schedule top competition. We start off next season with Western Michigan, a team which lost only one game last year, its bowl game to Wisconsin. We have Texas in the first month, and Stanford is early in week two. It will require us to take the lessons of last year and apply them to this season, so we are better at the start and give ourselves a stronger chance to play for a Pac-12 Championship.

Swann on the men's basketball showdown between USC and UCLA at the Galen Center...

The Bruins are greatly improved from last season. Last year, USC had a terrific year, beating UCLA three times. We are certainly going into this game feeling like we can beat them again. Every team needs to go into every game with that kind of confidence. We played a strong game but came away with a loss against Arizona last week. We showed our mettle by coming back from down quite a bit. We followed it up with a good win over Arizona State and are geared up and focused to make a good run at UCLA. I'll be there. Our president, Max Nikias, will be there. Our head football coach will be there. This basketball team will have the support of the entire student body, so we are looking forward to it.

Click here for USC men's basketball tickets.

Swann on the NCAA relaxing time demands on student-athletes...

It has always been the case for student-athletes that academics, practice and competition demand all of their time, so they cannot do anything else. Certainly, athletes understand that they miss out on a number of things. It was not until I retired from football that I ever went to a tailgate party, and they go on all the time. (laughing) But, we take this very seriously. We want our student-athletes to do well in school and compete well in the athletic arena, but we want them to have a great college experience also. So, these changes in terms of time demand and structure, giving them some time off, making sure that they are not over-coached and over-trained and pushed over their limits, we want to make sure that we comply. We also want to give them time to recover, so they can continue to compete well in and out of the classroom.

USC_Football_Rose_Bowl_2017_PSU_McGillen_5095.jpgSwann on his role in recruiting student-athletes to USC...

My role in recruiting is whatever the coaches want or need me to do. I speak with student-athletes in every sport. I talk to the student-athletes and their parents, and I tell them the same thing. First, I want all the student-athletes to graduate, so we put them on a track to get their degree because that is the real golden ticket. Very few athletes get the chance to play professionally. If they do, the degree will augment what they do down the road, but they will never have to go back to move forward. Number two, we want them to come here and win. We recruit them because we think they are the best student-athletes available to compete at this level. We expect them to come here and work hard to be winners. Third, we want them to have a great all-around college experience. And finally, you have to want to come to USC. It has to be your choice. If it is not the student's choice, it is too tough for them to be living someone else's dream. That's what I tell the student-athletes. That's what I tell the parents. The story does not change. My door is always open to both because your kids being in college does not mean you stop parenting.

Swann on the beginning of spring sports season...

We are off to a winning start with a lot of top ranked teams. Women's water polo, the defending national champions, is at the top of that list. Swimming and diving is doing extraordinarily well, and I hope to attend the women's NCAA competition. Track and field kicked off its indoor season impressively with Kendall Ellis running a school-record time in the 400m indoors. Men's and women's tennis picked up early season victories last week. I am looking forward to getting out to all of these sports. I will participate and give them my support. It is important that they know that they have the full support of the athletic director every step of the way.

State of Troy: December 2016

Each month, we sit down with USC athletic director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Swann on making the Rose Bowl...

USC_Womens_Soccer_NCA_College_Cup_Georgetown_McGillen_6720.jpgIt was a great November. For my first time being the athletic director during the holiday season, it's wonderful to have the gift of a Rose Bowl. The football team finished up extraordinarily well. Give Clay Helton all the credit for keeping them focused after a 1-3 start to get to a 9-3 season and a top 10 ranking. Our hats are off to him and the football program.

Swann on women's soccer's national championship...

We have 21 sports here, so I am just as proud of what women's soccer has accomplished. Under head coach Keidane McAlpine, we won the program's second national championship. I was on hand in Northern California for the semifinal against Georgetown and the final against West Virginia. The Mountaineers were ranked No. 1 with a roster full of Canadian national team players and Olympians, but we beat them, 3-1. It was an outstanding game played by an outstanding team. I cannot praise our team enough.

Swann on men's water polo's national runner-up finish...

Men's water polo has been at the top of its game forever, making 12 straight NCAA title matches. They came up a little short in overtime against Cal in Berkeley, but we are exceptionally proud of what Jovan Vavic has done and what his team has done. What I love about Jovan though is that he is never satisfied to finish second and will continue to doggedly pursue championships.

Swann on men's basketball's undefeated start...

USC_Football_Notre_Dame_Coliseum_2016_McGillen_6966.jpgI have enjoyed being in the locker room with Andy Enfield and his team after a couple of victories to listen to him talk about playing great defense and what it will take to win throughout the season. He talks to them about week-by-week improvement. Even in the face of adversity, when Bennie Boatwright went down with an injury, the team was disappointed but not devastated. They are focused on having a great season. They are in position to compete for a Pac-12 championship, which is the first goal, and ultimately to make the NCAA Tournament again.

Swann on women's basketball's excellent play...

The Women of Troy only have one loss, and they have dealt with injury trouble as well. They went on the road and picked up a quality win against a ranked Texas A&M team. We are hosting a tournament this weekend at the Galen Center, so we need to support them. We need to get more of our fans out to both men's and women's basketball games.

Swann on women's volleyball's season...

The women's volleyball team is young, but they had a nice season to earn a 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. I look forward to them being outstanding over the next several years. They will continue to get better and continue to grow.

Swann on the academic semester coming to an end...

Academically, we had another tremendous semester in the classroom. Our Stevens Academic Center is there for a reason, and they are doing a great job mentoring and tutoring our student-athletes. Our Graduation Success Rate (GSR) has gone up for the third straight year, and at the present pace, it looks like it will improve over the next two years also.

Swann on visiting USC supporters across the country...

Earlier in December, I took a trip back East for the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame dinner and met with several groups of our alumni who are eagerly engaged with USC and look to do more. They are excited about the Rose Bowl and our progress athletically and academically in all 21 sports. USC has changed and grown to become even more appealing across the country and globe. For example, our lacrosse program has put its sport on the map nationally for the West Coast, so we have more people interested in coming to USC from the East Coast where the sport has deep roots.

Swann on USC's competitive spirit...

I also had the chance to attend the Heisman dinner for the first time with some USC alumni, while we all enjoyed it, we look forward to the day when a Trojan is holding up the trophy again. That's what makes USC special. We had a tremendous fall semester, but we are never satisfied. We keep pushing to win championships in every sport and to get better and better every day, week, month and year.

Happy Holidays to the entire Trojans Family! We are thankful for the blessings of this past year and look forward to a tremendous 2017!

State of Troy: November 2016

Each month, we sit down with USC athletic director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

USC_Football_Oregon_McGillen_11_05_16_1688.jpgSwann on USC football's five-game winning streak...

I have seen solid improvement in each game from the players. The coaches have delivered great game plans, on the offensive side from Tee Martin and on the defensive side from Clancy Pendergast, that the players are able to grasp and execute. Now, they have put themselves in position to play in a big game this week in Seattle.

Swann on all the support from alums over Homecoming weekend...

We have a very strong alumni base across the board from all of our schools and sports that rally around our teams, including our football program. The former players want to see a team that plays well and plays hard. I think they are seeing that and that's what they are excited about. Yes, it was a tough start to the season, but everybody knew that we had a difficult schedule. The alums and the fans are encouraged by the team itself, and its ability to get better week-by-week. We value the impact that our former players have with our current players and we look forward to having them continue to stay involved in the future.

Click here for tickets to USC vs. Notre Dame.

Swann on the importance of packing the Galen Center to create an atmosphere for basketball...

We had a fabulous showing of fans come out to watch our women's soccer team last week play UCLA at the StubHub Center. More than 8,000 people supported what was a great contest, even though we did not come out on top that night. We need to have the same kind of passion for our basketball teams. Our programs are getting better and improving every season. When they get that kind of support from the alumni, fans and students, it drives the student-athletes and motivates them. It makes them feel valued, which leads to better play.


Click here for men's basketball tickets.

Click here for women's basketball tickets.

USC_Womens_Soccer_UCLA_Stub_Hub_Mcgillen_1402.jpgSwann on women's soccer getting a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament...

Keidane McAlpine has done a great job of leading this team. He has prepared them all season by emphasizing the fundamentals and making sure the players are in the right position and playing competitively. To see them earn a No. 2 seed, it says a lot about this team's heart and hard work that led to consistency. Our expectations for postseason play are very high, but not as high as the players' own expectations in terms of what they believe they can accomplish.

Click here for NCAA Tournament tickets.

Swann on the UCLA rivalry...


I am looking forward to my first USC-UCLA football game as an athletic director just as I am excited to support all the sports when they play UCLA. Rivalries are important. We've had this crosstown rivalry for so many years in every sport, so we look forward to the challenge. Our student-athletes grow up playing with and against UCLA's student-athletes, so it makes it even more fun and competitive. We always play this game hard, but we also show great sportsmanship and respect and we expect the fans to do the same. It's a game that we want to win every year regardless of how our season is going, so I expect every USC-UCLA contest to have the spirit of a national championship game from both sides.

State of Troy: October 2016

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

USC_Football_2016_ASU_McGillen_d500_1552.jpgSwann on the football season through five games...

The team has improved week over week. The players are executing better and making fewer mistakes, which were our biggest issues earlier in the year. They played strong, fast and confident against Arizona State, so Coach Helton has done a great job making sure the players are focused on the game ahead instead of worrying about the game behind. That is how you get better and have a winning season.

Click here for football ticket information.

Swann on the university being ranked in the nation's Top 15 academically...

The No. 15 ranking in the Wall Street Journal study is a testament to the long term growth of the university. You do not improve in those rankings overnight. It's not about doing something well for one year. You have to do it consistently. Under the leadership of Max Nikias as our president, USC has been able to do that, not just in terms of the new buildings that you see on campus, but the professors and academic teams inside these buildings, and the kind of students that are applying to USC from all over the country and around the world.

Click here for the full story.

Swann on women's soccer's nine-match winning streak being tested by No. 1 Stanford on Thursday...

USC_Soccer_LMU_Mcgillen_D500_card2_DSC_2333_1.JPGYou always want to beat Stanford. You always want to beat Cal. And of course, you always want to beat UCLA. All the California teams, so you establish your dominance within the state. The women's soccer team has been phenomenal. They are good, confident and deep. You can see their determination every time you walk out to the field and watch them play. They go after it. They are relentless in their pursuit of this streak and winning championships. Their shutout streak was broken, but that's okay because they are still winning.

Click here for the women's soccer schedule.

Swann on expectations for men's and women's basketball season...

I am looking forward to watching both teams as practice begins this month. I have sat with Andy Enfield and tried to help him recruit some of the top athletes in the country, and he feels very confident about the future classes that he is going to bring into the school. He has the program on the upswing. They were in the NCAA Tournament last year, and he feels really good about the talent that he has on this year's team and their chances to get back to the postseason.

On the women's side, I see them more than just about any group down at the McKay Center, working out and getting stronger. They are so confident that a number of the players on the team have challenged me personally in terms of a workout, so we might have a little competition somewhere along the way. They are eager and ready to show that they are improving also.


Click here for basketball ticket information.

Swann on the safety and security improvements at the Coliseum...

Security is a big issue around the country. With the Rams being here, we are following some of the same procedures that the NFL does, and many other colleges are following suit. For example, the clear bag policy and the metal detectors help our security staff provide a safe environment, but it takes a little extra time. We need to educate all our fans not to rush the gates right before kickoff. We encourage them to enter the stadium earlier to make sure that they make it to their seats in a timely manner. It's a process. People have to get used to the new way of doing things. Everybody at the stadium is working diligently to make sure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible.  

Click here to watch a video on the new security procedures.

State of Troy: September 2016

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Swann on the Alabama game...

USC_Football_Bama_mcgillen_LRDSC_6199.JPGOne game, especially the first game, does not make a season and does not break a season. Everyone in the Trojan Family would have liked to have been on the right side of an upset win over the No. 1 team in the country, but we are a better football team than the score indicated. The lopsidedness of the score was an indication of a few mistakes, broken assignments and playing against an extremely talented and deep football team. We can correct those mistakes. Most teams in college football make their greatest improvement between the first and third games of the season. We are looking for a lot of improvement in terms of assignments, not making mistakes and playing better football in the second game of the season against Utah State. I think we are a much better football team than we showed Saturday. Our ultimate goal is to win the Pac-12 and have a chance to be in the Rose Bowl. All other things come as a result of achieving that goal.

Swann on the fighting spirit needed by all Trojans...

What we do and what we say is 'Fight On' and that's exactly what we do in the next game. You pick your head up and learn from the mistakes. You find the resolve to come back and play the next week. We always learn more from the difficult things we endure in life than the easy wins. We celebrate the victories, but we learn from the mistakes. As a demonstration of that mindset, every Friday here is 'Fight On Friday', so wear your Cardinal and Gold proudly. Come support all our teams and show your Trojan pride wherever you are.

Click here for tickets to USC vs. Utah State at the Coliseum.

Swann on women's soccer and women's volleyball bouncing back with winning weeks...

I watched the women's soccer team play earlier this year, and they looked extraordinary solid and talented. They are working on a few bugs to be a more cohesive team and a unit, but there's some remarkable talent out there. They have a great opportunity this week to host a Top 10 North Carolina team on Sunday (1 p.m.) at McAlister Field. And later this season, the Women of Troy will play a showcase game against UCLA at StubHub Center. Women's volleyball got off to a slow start, trying to replace some key players from last season. They have some young players who will have the chance to stand up and fight and do well. They have begun that process.

Click here for tickets to USC vs. UCLA at StubHub Center.

USC_Womens_soccer_pepperdine_mcgillen_082816_DSC_5171.JPGSwann on No. 2 men's water polo and head coach Jovan Vavic...

Jovan has a great record and a unique style. He is very forthright and honest about his approach with the student-athletes. They have responded, obviously by their record, extraordinarily well. He is a demanding coach and his players have a huge track record to live up to and they don't shy away from it. You have got to admire that. He will continue to press and to push to get the most out of the young men and women who are under his charge. And, I look for him to continue to be successful.

Swann on the Los Angeles Rams' season starting...

It is a growing relationship between USC and the Rams. In general, there are different crowds going to each game, so everyone needs to be aware that there will be more traffic and activity around campus on NFL game days. Plus, along with the Rams, we have introduced new security measures this season, including metal detectors and a clear bag policy.

Click here for more on the new safety measures.

Swann on appreciating the life of a student-athlete...

Our student-athletes are extraordinarily busy. I get in the John McKay Center to work out at 5:30 a.m. and there are always student-athletes already training and starting their day. The dedication is impressive. You couple that with a full class load and participating in campus activities like fraternities and sororities and organizations, the daily schedule gets pretty stretched.

State of Troy: August 2016

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Swann on his first month as USC athletic director...

DSC_7084.jpgI think the first month has gone extremely well. I would recommend to anyone who is taking a job at a university to start the job in June or July. It gives you a chance to learn the campus, acclimate and educate yourself before the fall session begins. I continue to learn from the folks who have been here for a number of years about the athletic department. There is a lot to learn from everybody. Athletics is probably the most diverse group on campus with student-athletes from all over the country and the world in our 21 sports, which are all different. Being around them, if you cannot learn, you have a problem.

Swann on initial meetings with all the head coaches...

The message that I gave at the press conference when I first took the job is the same message that I gave to them. It is about the student-athletes graduating. The number two priority, because they are students first and athletes second, is pushing them to win. I do not think we will get their best unless they are seeking to be the best. Having a winning attitude, practicing and preparing to win, that's a great foundation for the future. We have won a lot of national championships in our storied history, but I want every sport that has never won a national championship to experience that feeling.

Swann on his first football season as athletic director...

It would be disingenuous as a high school, college and professional football player to say that I am not looking forward to the start of camp, which begins this week, and the opening of football season.  The first game that I ever watched as a USC student was against Alabama in 1970. The first game I ever played in was against Alabama in 1971 in the Coliseum. I cannot think of a more fitting opponent for my first game as an athletic director. I want to invite everyone to join us at our annual kickoff event, Salute to Troy, on August 19, to come meet the team and the coaches. And while we are all focused on the opener against Alabama in Texas, we have a loaded schedule this season and I am thrilled by the opportunities it presents. We need our fans to pack the Coliseum for every home game.

Click here for ticket information!

Swann on the Olympic Games...

USC has such a tremendous Olympic tradition. This year, we have 43 Olympians, which is more than any other school. As a fan, the Olympics always get me excited because the athletes get a chance to show that they are the best in the world at something. As a former long jumper and pole vaulter, I will be following the track and field events closely. At USC, I was a great admirer of Bob Seagren, an Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault, and Randy Williams, a gold medalist in the long jump who I like to remind people I beat in high school! I always keep my eye on swimming because Tom McBreen was my college roommate, and he won a bronze medal in 1972. I also covered weight lifting at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles for ABC Sports, so I will check in on the weight lifters too.

Click here to follow #USC2RIO!

Swann on what else he is watching this fall...

I look forward to integrating all the sports outside of football into our collective focus. We have a heavy schedule all year round. I am looking to engage with all the sports that are here, starting with women's volleyball, women's soccer, men's water polo and cross country in the fall. I want them all to do well, and I want them to know that they will all get great support here at USC. It is important for me as the athletic director to be present and show them that we are enthusiastic about everything that we do.

State of Troy: January 2016

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on men's basketball's resurgence...

USC_mens_basketball_arizona-1903.jpgI am delighted for Andy Enfield and our players, and maybe more than anything, I am thrilled for our core group of basketball fans who have loyally stuck with this program over some trying years. Andy had a plan, and we knew that change was not going to happen overnight, but we certainly are a much improved program now. And, I think we are going to continue to improve, not only over the course of this season, but the coming years. I hope the success is embraced by our students and non-core fans. The environment for the quadruple overtime win against Arizona was magical. It was transformative for the team, and our fans can be worth six or eight points, which is enough to swing a bunch of games in this conference. We hope to get that kind of support the rest of the year.

Click here for men's basketball ticket information.

Haden on women's basketball's return to the Top 25...

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke brought in some new coaches, highlighted by Beth Burns, and it has really made a difference. We are a well coached team. And, we have a superb recruiting class coming in next year. Much like men's basketball, the Pac-12 is pretty equal on the women's side, so every game is hotly contested. We had a terrific win over a very good UCLA team on Sunday to even up the BMW Crosstown Cup. I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Click here for women's basketball ticket information.

Haden on Clay Helton's major coaching hires...

He has a philosophy of having three coordinators: offense, defense and special teams. He really believes that you need to have somebody entirely focused on special teams. He and I are in agreement that John Baxter is the best special teams coach that we have ever been around. Clancy Pendergast led us to the best defense in the conference in 2013, so it is good to have him back. And on offense, promoting Tee Martin to offensive coordinator is well deserved. This is the next step in his career. We are excited about our prospects for 2016 as we continue to build the staff.

Click here for season ticket information.

Haden-Rams.jpgHaden on the Rams returning to Los Angeles...

I am delighted to have my former team back in Los Angeles, and calling them the "Los Angeles Rams" again. I had a great experience in my years with the team, including playing in the Coliseum after my USC days. Los Angeles gets its wish for an NFL franchise, and I am thrilled that it is the Rams. As for the Coliseum, USC's lease with the Coliseum Commission only allows one NFL team to play in the Coliseum at any given time, so in order for two teams to play in the Coliseum, both the Coliseum Commission and the California Science Center Board would need to approve a second team by amending our lease.

Haden on the Stevens Academic Center's effect on academic improvement...

Since we opened the doors of the Stevens Academic Center in August 2012, the level of academic engagement and success for our student-athletes has increased tremendously. We attribute a very large portion of that success to the new academic facility that has provided significantly more study space and a much better layout that is conducive to the various functions our academic support staff meets. We also immediately noticed a huge increase in the amount of time our student-athletes spend studying in our facility as well as a significant increase in the request for academic services from student-athletes in all 21 of our sports.  Since the Stevens Academic Center opened, we have an average semester GPA of 2.91 versus 2.81 the prior 12 years, and improvements in the number of student-athletes on the Dean's List with an average of 120.1 versus 97 the prior 12 years, an increase in the average number of 3.0 and higher GPAs of 287.5 versus 248 the prior 12 years, and a steady reduction in student-athletes below a 2.0 (52.7 versus 68.1). In the last 3 years, we have had an average of 12 student-athletes on academic probation per semester. Prior to the opening of the Stevens Academic Center, we had an average of 33 student-athletes on probation, dating back to Fall 2000.

Click here for the fall semester report card.

Haden on the new tennis stadium...

We are thrilled to open the new Marks Tennis Stadium and Buntmann Family Tennis Center in February. It had not been renovated in three decades, so the players and coaches are thrilled with the enhancements. We had a handful of very significant donors, some of them former student-athletes, who gave back for this. We are going to have the finest tennis facility in the country, which is deserving of our two programs. The men's team has been dominant under Peter Smith and long before him, and the women's program is knocking on the national championship door seemingly every year under Richard Gallien. 

State of Troy: November 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on the preliminary plans for the Coliseum renovation...

Aerial.jpgThe planning has really been several years in the making, researching a lot of different options and gathering ideas from thousands of our fans, alumni and support group members through surveys and focus groups. When USC took over the lease in 2013, it became clear that doing nothing was not an option given the state of the stadium. Our lease requires us to spend $70 million over 10 years, so instead of a patchwork approach, our priority became a renovation project that enhances the game day experience for all fans, creates a great home field advantage for our team, and restores and preserves the historic nature of the Coliseum. And of course, we plan to do this in a way that recognizes the loyalty of our long-term fans and provides plenty of affordable seating options.

Haden on the initial response to the announcement of the preliminary plans...

The response has been generally positive. We have received a lot of interest in lead gift opportunities, so we are very optimistic about raising the funds for this project. We do recognize concerns that our fans have raised, mostly about seating. First and foremost, it is important to remind everyone that these are still preliminary plans. We are committed to recognizing the loyalty of all our season ticket holders. We are confident that all fans will benefit from this renovation, which includes new seats, handrails, more aisles and legroom, Wi-Fi connectivity and two new video boards plus enhanced audio. We really appreciate everyone's feedback, both pro and con, and we will continue to evaluate it as we work towards finalizing our plans.

Click here to learn more at ColiseumRenovation.com!

Haden on the football team's resurgence under interim head coach Clay Helton...

It has been terrific to watch the last few weeks. Beating Utah, the No. 3 team in the nation at the time and a physical opponent, by running the football and playing defense was really encouraging to me. And then, the coaching staff did a great job against Cal and Jared Goff, who will be a top pick in the NFL Draft. I loved how we were able to run the ball in the last three minutes of the game to secure the victory. Even though Clay Helton is known as an offensive guru, he has spent a lot of practice time with the defense. They feel his presence, and so they view him as a head coach instead of an offensive coordinator. The entire coaching staff has responded well in a challenging situation.

USC_soccer_colorado_LR_102615DSC_3900.jpgHaden previews men's and women's basketball...

Year three under Andy Enfield, we have a full roster of Pac-12 caliber players. The conference is strong again with the usual targets at the top, but we should be much improved. I am looking forward to seeing a healthy Jordan McLaughlin and to watching our freshmen big men, Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright, who have a lot of promise. On the women's side, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has done a terrific job in recruiting to build this program. She is going to need her bigs to step up and play right away. We should be very competitive in the Pac-12 this season, playing a fun style of basketball. 

Click here for men's and women's basketball ticket information.

Haden on women's soccer's best conference finish since 2007...

Keidane McAlpine (pictured) has done a tremendous job changing the attitude and effort of the program. This team is extremely well coached. They have had a sensational year and who knows how far they might go in the NCAA Tournament. We finish the regular season with a Crosstown Cup match at UCLA on Friday, and it would be great to get a win over the always-tough Bruins. I am incredibly impressed with what women's soccer has done this season.

State of Troy: October 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on USC football through the first month of the season...

cody-kessler-weekly-asu.jpgWhat we know about our team is that our quarterback is playing extremely well. We also found out that Stanford is a pretty good football team, although we still had our chances there. We also beat a pretty good Arizona State team, which I think beat a good UCLA team. I really do believe the Pac-12 South is not going to be decided until the very last week of the season, and there will be three or four teams in that mix. I would not say Utah is a surprise, but they are playing as well as anybody in the conference right now.

Click here to see our postseason awards site!

Haden on Thursday night football games...

Every Pac-12 school has to host a Thursday or Friday night game two out of every three years. That is the requirement. I would prefer to play every Saturday at 1 p.m., but that is not going to happen. We have tried to embrace it, and thankfully, we do get a bye before and a few days after the Thursday game. This particular week, we have some of our football players who will be getting to the hotel late Wednesday night because of midterm exams. They are regular students like they should be. While it may be inconvenient, I am proud of the fact that our guys have taken it on as a challenge and are just going to do it.

Click here for tailgating and parking information for this Thursday's game at the Coliseum against Washington.

Haden on USC women's volleyball's rise to the No. 1 national ranking...

wvb-ranking1.jpgI have been to several games, including two this past weekend, and they are fun to watch, playing much quicker. The team is performing spectacularly well, and Samantha Bricio is leading the way. Watching her after the Friday night match, she is a hero in the Latino community. She was swarmed by 300 kids who wanted her autograph and to take a picture with her. We needed to make sure that she had a security escort just to get out of there. She is on pace to break the school's all-time kills record, so that will be some great history to track as the season progresses.

Haden on the latest news surrounding the O'Bannon lawsuit...

I would say it is on pause. I would not say the NCAA nor the plaintiffs have won yet. There is a lull here, but there will be more litigation down the road, and we are just monitoring it. There are three or four other lawsuits coming, so we have to prepare financially.

Haden on starting year two as a College Football Playoff committee member...

The best thing we did was to wait and let the season marinate before releasing our first rankings. It is kind of comical to watch commentators release their Top 4 every week when we know that there is a long way to go here. We do not vote until the season is past its halfway point, so you have much more of an understanding about teams during conference play because many schools do not play difficult non-conference schedules. My specific responsibilities this year are to monitor the ACC schools, so I am watching a lot of their games, including Clemson's win over Notre Dame. I watched seven games on Saturday and then one every morning on the treadmill. I know we will have a very committed committee again this year.

State of Troy: September 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on his handling of the Sarkisian situation...

Coli-Sunset-SH.jpgThis decision was given careful thought after conversations with medical professionals and trusted staff members. We developed a confidential plan going forward. Steve has discussed the counseling part of it, which he has already started. He has told me that it has been helpful, and he has approached it with an open mind. I understand that some people disagree with my decisions, this happens all the time. I believe this course of action was in the best interest not only of our university and Steve Sarkisian, but especially of our players, who have really rallied around their head coach.

Haden on the NFL coming to the Coliseum...

I have not spoken directly with the NFL in some time, but from all accounts, I absolutely believe the NFL will be here in 2016 or at the latest 2017. It could very well be two teams, but we would welcome one team in the Coliseum, and we have told that to the NFL. They would be a tenant of ours for likely two seasons, while they built their own stadium. And, we would use those dollars as part of the money that we need to remodel the Coliseum.

Haden previews the fall sports...

USC_WVB_UNC_082815_MCG6641.jpgWomen's volleyball is off to a terrific start with a new offensive and defensive system, and they have already surged up the national rankings to No. 8. I watched the wins over North Carolina and BYU on Pac-12 Networks and came away very impressed. Women's soccer is 2-1 with its only loss to the No. 1 team in the country, so we are optimistic about what Keidane McAlpine is doing with that program. As always, we expect big things from men's water polo, one of our most decorated programs.

Haden previews football...

I am really excited about the younger players, but you always start with the veteran core, and we are lucky to have a senior quarterback in Cody Kessler, who had sensational numbers last year. Adoree' Jackson has a chance to be the most exciting player in college football. He is going to get a lot of touches in a lot of different ways. The biggest change, though, is that when I watch us practice, I see four guys at every position. We should be a lot better team by midseason after these young players gain some game experience.

Haden on men's basketball's trip to Italy...

I got a lot of positive reports from the trip. Andy Enfield's team looks a lot better. All our young players are not so young anymore, and the two freshmen, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, are going to be special. I know it has been hard in basketball the last few years, but we are really encouraged about the trajectory of the program.

A Vision for the Future

In honor of his five-year anniversary as USC athletic director, Pat Haden wrote a letter to the Trojan Family reviewing the past five years and detailing his vision for the future of Trojan Athletics.

Click here to read the letter!

Upon taking the job in 2010, Haden listed six points that would define the short-term success of the department in light of the NCAA sanctions which had just been handed down. With that behind him, he has set forth nine guiding principles to define future success for USC Athletics.

A Vision For the Future Get Acrobat Reader

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State of Troy: May 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on sand volleyball's perfect season and national championship...

Team-SandVolley-15.JPGConsidering this is just our fourth season, it is remarkable. There are now over 50 teams playing sand volleyball, so this is no longer a minor sport. Next year, it becomes an official NCAA sponsored sport. We have had only a special few undefeated national champions here at USC, and I was lucky enough to play on one of them back in 1972, so I know how hard it is. To go from not fielding the sport to undefeated in four years is a real testament to coach Anna Collier and the students that she has recruited.

Haden on another strong NFL Draft for the Trojans...

Playing in the NFL is a great job if you can get it. We know that one of the reasons students come here is because we have such a rich tradition of not only graduating our players, but also putting more in the NFL than any other school in the country. It is wonderful to chase that dream as long as you are not precluded from realizing other opportunities as well.

Haden on needing Trojan Athletic Fund members now more than ever...

Thumbnail image for Jimmy Jones for Post.jpgIf you have been paying attention to the conversations around collegiate athletics, you are aware of the budgetary challenges athletic departments are now facing. We want to do all that we possibly can for our students, including full cost of attendance, $1 million more in food, and the O'Bannon deferred compensation costs. This is why supporting the Trojan Athletic Fund is so critically important, so we can continue to have a broad based program. We have some great upcoming events, including the Trojan Huddles throughout Southern California, for returning and prospective Trojan Athletic Fund members.

Haden on the academic progress of the athletic department during his tenure as Graduation approaches...

I am very happy with the direction that we have taken in our academic profile over the last five years. We are graduating over 90% of our student athletes who complete their athletic eligibility at USC. We are just a few percentage points behind the general population, and we want to close that gap. It is not easy being a student here as well as an athlete, but we are making great progress.

Haden on the USC Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015 being inducted next week...

We have 16 new members, and they are all phenomenal. Some of the names may not resonate with our younger fans, but if you look at someone like Jimmy Jones (pictured), who was an African-American quarterback here in the late 60's and early 70's, one of the very first in America, and the success that he had here and in his career, there are going to be so many stories like that among the 16. There will be names that people know like Pete Carroll, but even the names that you do not recognize, they are part of this rich fabric and tradition of USC athletics. It is really a stirring evening. It reminds you how deep and strong our athletic heritage is.

State of Troy: March 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on the future of football in light of Chris Borland's decision to retire early due to safety concerns...

USC_baseball_LR_030915_MCG1355.jpgFootball changed my life. And while it did so, I did have four concussions during my playing career (one in high school, two in college and another professionally), so I understand both sides of the debate. At USC, we believe that we have the best concussion protocol in the country because we take that concern very seriously. We travel with a neurosurgeon. We have someone in the press box observing the game to see if there is something that the trainers and coaches might miss on the field. While we have taken every possible measure to prevent and treat them, concussions are going to occur in football, as we also deal with in soccer and other sports here at USC, so everybody has to make that decision for themselves about the costs and benefits of any sport.

Haden wraps up the USC men's basketball season...

In my opinion, the talent level clearly was better, but the disappointing thing is that it did not translate into more wins. I was hoping to take a little bigger leap this year, but I am still optimistic about where we are heading. Unlike football, where you need to bring in 15-20 good players a year to stay competitive, basketball just relies on two or three, and we have two talented 6-foot-10 big men coming in next year to help. I would expect to see a major leap next year in our men's basketball program.

Haden on patience paying off with USC baseball...

A lot of fan bases want you to fire a coach after 15 minutes of losing a game. As an athletic director, I think you need to be a little patient and let a coach play out a recruiting cycle or two or even three. I do not know what the right number is for a coach, but it is certainly not a year or even two. Coach [Dan] Hubbs has had a strategy about upgrading his pitching, which I think he has done, and now we are scoring more runs too. I am thrilled by baseball's progress. We have a tremendous tradition with more national championships than any school in the country, and I think we have a team that can make a postseason run this year.

USC_Athletic_Director_Speaker_Series_Condoleeza_Rice_031615_MCG8097.jpgHaden on USC track & field ahead of the Trojan Invitational this weekend...

I think Caryl Smith Gilbert and her staff have been awesome. Not good, but awesome. I think she is going to win multiple national championships here as our Director of Track & Field. Sprinting has always been the lifeblood of the program, but we are focusing on getting more out of our field events led by our throwing coach Dan Lange. This weekend, the Trojan Invitational provides a great opportunity for our fan base, particularly those track enthusiasts, to come out and watch our teams, which both could contend for national championships.

Haden on the new Athletic Director Speaker Series...

Two of our development officers, Alexandra Bitterlin and Scott Jacobson, came to me with the idea of the speaker series as a way to elevate the conversation around athletics. We want to strive to be a thought leader and grow our relationship with the University on multiple levels. This week, we partnered with the USC Price School of Public Policy to welcome Dr. Condoleezza Rice who discussed governance in collegiate sports. We have not announced the next speaker, but it is nice to take a break from always talking about nose tackles and free throws to look at things in a different light.

State of Troy: January 2015

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on USC Athletics already raising nearly $300 million in support of the University's $6 billion goal...

Haden-Nikias-JMC-PC.jpgFirst, the audacity of having a $6 billion campaign shows once again that USC is never afraid of a challenge in anything that we do. When President Max Nikias announced this four years ago, I scratched my head because we were just coming off a $2 billion campaign, so the enormity of this effort is incredible. Our development team has done a phenomenal job, but having so many great student-athletes is really what inspires our donors to support the department. Additionally, it shows the power and loyalty of the Trojan Family to accomplish these goals during the dark era of the NCAA sanctions.  

Haden wraps up his first year as a College Football Playoff member...

I am satisfied that I know myself and the other committee members gave it every opportunity that we could. We were remarkably diligent in our preparation. I felt pressure not to be the least prepared person in that room because I knew my colleagues were going to be ready. I think most people are satisfied with how it played out, but there are certainly people in Texas that are not, and I completely understand it. I am sure there will be people in some geography next year that are going to be upset based on whoever finishes fifth or sixth.

Haden on the effect of new NCAA reforms on USC...

We believe the NCAA's changes are good for student-athletes. The most immediate change is going to full cost of attendance for scholarships. We will have to budget for the new expense, but it puts about $2,000 more in the stipend checks for our student-athletes. Right behind that are the results of the O'Bannon lawsuit, which could be a significant cost to us. We are still trying to put a number on it, but up to $4-6 million per year. Autonomy has brought more topics of discussion to the table, and most of them will be good for student-athletes.

Team-MW-McG.JPGHaden previews spring sports including a Coliseum game for women's lacrosse...

This is our third year of women's lacrosse and on February 7, the Women of Troy will host Northwestern, the dominant program in the sport, at the Coliseum, and we would like to get as many fans as possible to that game. The game starts at 3pm, and admission is complimentary. I think we have a legitimate chance to win several national championships this semester. Both our tennis programs, both our track and field programs, both our golf programs, both our swimming and diving teams, men's volleyball, women's rowing, women's sand volleyball and women's water polo are all nationally ranked and expect to compete for titles. Baseball appears to be on the rise as well.

Haden on the recently completed academic semester being the best on record...

It is fantastic. It is hard being a world class athlete and a premier student at a place like USC. I do get frustrated when you see published reports about graduation success rates because those are historical and predate my tenure. We graduate 90% of the student-athletes that stick it out through their senior years. I make them promise mom right in front of me that they will finish school. Sometimes they disappoint mom, but we tell them how valuable a degree from USC will be throughout their entire life. Our Stevens Academic Center headed by Dr. Magdi El Shahawy has done a phenomenal job.

Click here for the fall semester grade report.

State of Troy: December 2014

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on the first regular season under Steve Sarkisian...

Zamperini-Helmet.jpgIt was an up-and-down season. We had two Top 15 road wins at the time over Stanford and Arizona plus a great victory over our natural rival Notre Dame, but we had two bad losses to Boston College and UCLA. The other two losses I felt like we gave away, so it is a shame looking back at the season that if we had not given up the Hail Mary to Arizona State, we would have won the Pac-12 South. We have higher expectations than eight wins at USC, but I am optimistic about the future with most of our offense expected to return, especially the young offensive line, which is the foundation of any great offense. Cody Kessler put together a phenomenal year statistically, and he will be a Heisman Trophy candidate next season. Plus, I expect us to sign another outstanding recruiting class and continue to rebuild our ranks to compete in the Pac-12, which will be good again next year.

Haden on Louis Zamperini and the premiere of Unbroken...

I had the great pleasure of meeting Louis Zamperini a couple times. It was significant to me not only because of what he did, but my father was a World War II veteran, and I have a strong appreciation for the "Greatest Generation." When I read Unbroken, I thought to myself, "This can't be true. Somebody has to be making this up." I am looking forward to seeing how the book translates to the big screen. Louis exemplifies the Fight On spirit. We honored him all season by wearing a "Z" on our helmets, and now we are endowing a track and field scholarship in his name. He will always be fondly remembered by me and the Trojan Family.

Click here to donate to the Louis Zamperini endowed scholarship.

Haden on any Coliseum updates...

Since it is an old facility, we are trying to get a true cost of this renovation project. We do not want to prepare for X and then it ends up costing X + Y. So, we are still in the process for about the next three months with engineers and architects determining that number. In the meantime, I am fundraising and looking at design concepts. We are making slow, but steady progress.

USC_WATERPOLO_UCLA_2014_-48.jpgHaden on his first year on the College Football Playoff committee...

We are all really committed to this job. We understand the importance of trying to get it right in this first year in particular.  We all really care about college athletics and football. Having said all that, when we vote on Sunday, those teams that finish fifth, sixth and seventh all could have won the national championship. They will feel bitter and disappointed. We understand that, but we have a cut line at four. It will be a hard, spirited debate, and all the committee members will be prepared.

Haden on men's water polo going for its seventh straight national championship...

Jovan Vavic is the best coach in the country at his sport. If he can pull this off, as the No. 3 seed, they are quickly running out of ring fingers. It is another incredible run, and then he will exhale for about 15 minutes and start up with the women's team, which also has a great shot to win a national championship.

Haden on his future as athletic director...

I hear from friends that there are rumors about me stepping away from this job, but that is not in my plans at this time. I am fully engaged in this job and love working with our great staff, coaches and student-athletes here. We have a lot of work to do in the future. Yes, I am getting older, but my health is fine. I am looking forward to a great 2015 in USC athletics.

State of Troy: November 2014

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on USC Athletics' academic integrity policy...

In light of recent events at institutions across the country, we have reviewed the safeguards that are in place to prevent such abuse within USC Athletics.  USC takes academic integrity seriously and we believe we have established strong protocols, but no policy is perfect so we must remain constantly vigilant.  Our protocols include banning coaches from communicating with faculty regarding student-athletes' academic progress and banning our academic staff from discussing with professors grades our student-athletes need to be eligible, as well as limiting the number of student-athletes in any one class and monitoring grade distributions when more than 15% of a class is composed of student-athletes.  We also have our faculty athletic representative, who is a professor in our law school, contact any professor who makes a grade change for a student-athlete and verify the legitimacy of the change.

Click here for a story on the department's academic integrity policy.

USC_SOCCER_092214_0214.JPGHaden on women's soccer's primetime showdown Friday night at the Coliseum...

Coach Keidane McAlpine (pictured) and his staff have done a tremendous job turning our soccer program around. We are a much better offensive team than we were a year ago. Here at the end, when we had crunch time, we had to win four of our last six and we have done that. It puts us in a position to make the NCAA Tournament, where we have not been since 2010. I give Steve Lopes and his search committee credit for hiring McAlpine.

Click here for ticket information.

Haden on the UCLA rivalry for the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup...

We play UCLA more than 30 times per year. Every one of them is important. It is the most important game for every one of our student-athletes. These are the moments the kids live for when you come to USC. I am sure they feel the same way at UCLA. For me as an old athlete, I live and die with those wins and losses. I died Sunday night when we lost to UCLA in men's water polo in a great atmosphere at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. So, winning the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup would be significant.

Click here for the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup website.

Haden on the football season through nine games...

Given our severely diminished numbers, it is remarkable what we have been able to do with generally less than 50 players each game. It has been astounding. I think the staff has done a good job. I feel awful, as I know Coach Sarkisian does, about losing two games that we had an excellent chance of winning. But I am very optimistic about where we are heading. I think we are going to have a good recruiting class. We are going to have a lot of really good, young players next year.

Haden previews men's and women's basketball...

The men's team is clearly more athletic than last year and I fully anticipate that we will have a better season. They are young, but very athletic. I think they will be more entertaining to watch. I think we are certainly going in the right direction. On the women's side, we lost several key players, including Cassie Harberts, who was a really good player, so we have a little bit of rebuilding to do. The Pac-12 is tough this year on the women's side with several ranked teams, so we will have our work cut out for us, but Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke also has her program moving in the right direction.

State of Troy: June 2014

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on the potential effects of the O'Bannon case which is headed to trial next week...

Haden-SA-Grad14-PC.jpgTo be prudent, institutions have to think about what could happen if the NCAA loses the case.  In financial terms, it would cost every institution millions of dollars. Schools would have to set that money aside to pay student-athletes for the use of their likeness, which is the crux of the case.  In order to do so, institutions would have to shave that money from their annual budget, which could lead to severe downsizing and even the elimination of some sports.  No athletic director wants to have to make that decision.

Haden on how "pay-for-play" could work in intercollegiate athletics...

Pay-for-play is a Rubik's cube that no one has quite figured out yet. I have been beating the drum for two years about doing more for our student-athletes. However, with Title IX and NCAA rules, it is never that simple.  If pay-for-play became the standard, we would probably have to pay not just football players, but all of our student-athletes something or we could be in violation of Title IX.  And of course, paying student-athletes is a violation of NCAA rules, thus the Rubik's cube. I think covering the full cost of attendance is a step in the right direction in addition to what we already do for student-athletes, which is considerable.  Along those lines, the Northwestern case is still on people's minds.  We are awaiting the ruling from the National Labor Relations Board, but most of what the Northwestern student-athletes are specifically seeking, we already provide to our student-athletes.  We do not yank scholarships from players for performance, and we happily pay for former student-athletes to come back and complete their degrees.  In terms of health benefits, meals and stipends, we provide the maximum allowed under NCAA rules.

Haden on the big five conferences considering autonomy...

The five major conferences (Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12) are saying that we want to have the autonomy to make decisions that are rational for us that may not apply to everybody.  We have to acknowledge that some schools and athletic departments have more resources than others, and each needs to do the right things for their student-athletes.  The potential new rules, like feeding players or paying the full cost of attendance, would be considered "permissive legislation" I would hope, so each school would figure out on its own what it can do up to the allowable, but it is not mandatory.

Haden on remembering the power of an athletic scholarship...

Sarmiento-Johnson-100.jpgWhile I always want to do as much as we can for our student-athletes, it is important to acknowledge how valuable the scholarship already is.  I am the perfect example.  I could not have attended USC without a football scholarship, and my experience here built the foundation for my entire life.  Football changed my life.  USC changed my life.  And if you talk to the last four decades of student-athletes who have come through here, I would wager a guess that 95% would echo the statement that playing a sport at USC changed their lives. I have seen it over and over and over again. The message from the great majority of our student-athletes, both past and present, is different than the public perception.

Haden recaps a big spring for USC athletics...

Peter Smith and men's tennis winning five of the last six national championships is remarkable because it is a deep field in that sport with about 300 teams competing each year.  Plus, it was our 100th NCAA team title as an athletic department, and men's tennis has accounted for an impressive 21 of those.  By the way, we are finalizing plans to improve the tennis facility in the near future. Baseball was greatly improved moving up to fifth in the conference and narrowly missed out on making the NCAA Regionals.  I thought they earned and deserved a spot.  Caryl Smith Gilbert has had a really good start to her USC coaching career with track and field, so we are looking forward to the NCAA Championships next week.  Women's golf had another remarkable season.  We were disappointed to finish second, but it is amazing how close they were this year and that they have finished second three of the last five seasons by a combined four strokes and won it in 2013.  I was also thrilled with our performance in the classroom across all sports.  We posted the best semester GPA on record for the department.

Haden on short term Coliseum renovations and additions...

We are working hard developing plans to renovate the Coliseum in both the short and long terms. Regarding this upcoming season, we have exciting plans to enhance the fan experience that we will start rolling out as soon as next week.  The stadium will offer some new viewing and tailgating opportunities for those who wish to partake as well as improvements like better stadium access, higher quality food with more options and overall cleanliness. Stay tuned for more...

State of Troy: Coliseum Renovation

Two weeks ago, USC sent out a survey to various constituents regarding the possible redevelopment of the Coliseum. In this month's State of Troy, USC athletic director Pat Haden addresses some of the questions he has received regarding the survey.

Why did you send out this survey?

When USC took control of the Coliseum and Sports Arena this past summer, the university and, more specifically, the athletic department became responsible for the operation, maintenance and upgrading of the 91-year-old stadium. USC is required to spend $70 million over a 10-year period for enhancements and improvements to the stadium's infrastructure. While these improvements will help the Coliseum remain functional, they do not address much-needed improvements to the fan experience. It is not an option to "do nothing." Knowing that we have to spend $70 million on the Coliseum, why not investigate all options of what the Coliseum could become? That's the purpose of the survey, to discuss some possibilities and see what our fans will support. This is the time to explore what we want the Coliseum to look like for the next 100 years.

Are you planning to implement everything suggested in the survey questions?

Coliseum-GoPro-Scrimmage13.jpgNo decisions have been made. We know we need to do something based on the lease mandate and the current condition of the Coliseum. So, we have surrounded ourselves with expert consultants to guide us through a feasibility study and examine what possible steps we can take to enhance the facility. We recognized that the first step must be to gauge the appetite of our fan and donor base. This has been done through the release of our survey to nearly 250,000 stakeholders and will continue through the use of focus groups. This will provide telling information about what our fans truly want and what they are willing to support. Certainly not everyone is going to answer the survey the same way, but we, as an athletic department and as a university, must first listen, then digest the information, and finally act accordingly in the best long-term interest of the Coliseum and the faithful Trojan fans. We greatly appreciate the thousands of fans who have completed the survey. Positive, negative, or indifferent, all of them have been heard and are playing an active role in the possible redevelopment of the Coliseum.

Why does the Coliseum need to be renovated beyond the bare minimum?

Very little has been done to renovate the Coliseum since it was built, except when the field was lowered to add seats in 1993 and when major repair and retrofitting was needed following the 1994 earthquake. If we do nothing beyond the required $70 million in enhancements, the Coliseum will slip decades behind most other premier venues in the country. We will fall short in addressing not only many on-going issues and problems (life-safety, ADA, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, general infrastructure, ingress and egress, restroom, concession, audio-visual, football operation, sports medicine, media and technology), but there will be an overall lack of fan amenities. We have recently given facelifts to some of our campus athletic facilities, like Heritage Hall and the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, to the benefit of future generations of student-athletes and the Trojan Family. I believe we can do the same for the Coliseum, while keeping in mind that this is a historic landmark and preservation guidelines must be followed.

What are other benefits of renovation?

Modern stadiums have amenities that we simply cannot provide our fans in the Coliseum's current state. An updated Coliseum would provide significant opportunities to create long-term revenue generation through less intrusive sponsorship activation. Technology will provide us with a better in-game experience for our fans and sponsors. We want a more intimate environment to improve our home field advantage by bringing our fans closer to the game, and we will study acoustics and sight-line plans accordingly. We can provide premium experiences through club seats, loge boxes and luxury suites. We can improve the video boards and fix some audio issues. We can enhance the experience for our players by providing a better locker room and medical facility. The media would enjoy an improved press box. And most importantly, fans will have a better overall experience from tailgating to seating to watching the game.

Coli-Tunnel-Camp20-McG.jpgAre fans going to lose their seats or be forced to buy a personal seat license to protect them?

Again, no decisions have been made. As part of our survey, we are receiving valuable feedback from our fans regarding stadium renovation programs that have been pursued by other universities, including personal seat licensing and other topics. There has been a range of opinions, both positive and negative, and those ideas will be considered at every step in the process, including how to honor and recognize previous commitments should seat licenses be imposed in some of the stadium. At the same time, we need to be cognizant that not every long-time USC fan wants a premium option and we need to provide an affordable experience for those fans. We recognize that the support of the Trojan Family is what makes the environment at USC football games special, and we do not want to make decisions that would change this irrevocably. Our goal is to create a facility that our fans' children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can proudly visit.

What is the Coliseum Improvement Fee that is part of current ticket prices and how is this money used?

The Coliseum Improvement Fee, begun in 2012, has allowed us to make some improvements throughout the Coliseum. Over the past two years, we have upgraded the quality of the playing field, added a centralized point of sale system for concessions, improved the connectivity and sound for our guests, and partnered with third party concessionaires and maintenance professionals. This upcoming season, among other things, we will use the fee to implement advanced technology for ticket scanning and we will provide new pre- and post-game tailgating opportunities. But the cost of making impactful improvements to fan amenities and the game experience far exceed the annual fees generated by ticket sales and the Coliseum Improvement Fee.

How are other schools handling the problem of aging stadiums?

In the Pac-12 Conference alone, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, California, Arizona and Washington State all either recently completed or are currently undergoing massive renovation projects. Since 2000, every Pac-12 school has spent between $32 million and $313 million more on stadium improvements than USC. Nationally, schools such as Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Baylor are taking on $100 million to $500 million projects.

Haden on Northwestern Unionization

In light of today's breaking news about Northwestern football's unionization case, here is USC Athletic Director Pat Haden's take on the subject from his most recent "State of Troy":

"Clearly, change is in the air in college football with issues like pay-for-play, unionization and concussion prevention drawing national attention.  As an administrator, these are all worthy of discussion in terms of how we can create a better environment within the rules of the NCAA.  Regarding unionization specifically, I have looked at the demands of the Northwestern players, and quite honestly, we provide most of those already at USC.  We do not yank scholarships from players, and we happily pay for former student-athletes to come back and complete their degrees.  In terms of health benefits and stipends, we provide the maximum allowed under NCAA rules, but we would love the opportunity to do more, especially when it comes to feeding our student-athletes.  It is unjust that we cannot feed them when they are hungry.  The Northwestern case will work its way through the court system over the next few years, and we will closely monitor it, and maintain a dialogue with our student-athletes about how we can improve."

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