New USC AD Swann supports Helton, touts Trojans' progress
Apr. 14, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lynn Swann has no previous experience as a collegiate athletic administrator, let alone running a department with the power and prestige of Southern California.
The former Trojans football star says he realizes how much he doesn't know, and he can't wait to learn.
USC formally introduced Swann on Thursday as its new athletic director. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Hall of Fame receiver was hired a day earlier to replace Pat Haden on July 1.
"I'm not coming into this job thinking I have all the answers," Swann said. "I'm coming here to work with an established team that has done a great job. I will learn from them. I will find out how we can do things better as we move forward, and I will take their suggestions on how to do it."
Moments after meeting Clay Helton for the first time, the 64-year-old Swann expressed immediate support for his football coach. Helton got the full-time job late last season, replacing the fired Steve Sarkisian and leading USC to an 8-6 finish.
"I think he's going to do an outstanding job," Swann said of Helton. "He has 100 percent of my support to make that happen."
Swann played on two Rose Bowl teams and won a national championship at USC. The Trojans haven't won the Pac-12 since 2008 and haven't won a national title since coach Pete Carroll's tenure a decade ago.
"USC's standard is to win national championships, and that's exactly what we're going to do: win national championships," Swann said.
Swann is the third straight former USC football player to hold the top post in USC's wealthy athletic department, but he won't confine his attention to the gridiron. He took time to praise the Trojans' beach volleyball team, which won the national title a year ago.
Swann was a surprising choice for the job by USC President Max Nikias, who picked the veteran broadcaster and former gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania. Swann also served as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Health for three years.
He said Nikias approached him about the opening.
"There are a lot of things in my life that I think I planned for," Swann said. "This was not necessarily one of them, but it's one of those great, unexpected outcomes that I'm looking forward to. I think I've been building for it for a long period of time. It's a job I feel like I have prepared for over my entire career."
Swann said he had an informative conversation with Haden, who didn't attend Swann's news conference. Haden will leave the job June 30 after 5 1/2 occasionally difficult years that began with the navigation out of heavy NCAA sanctions.
USC is on much more stable ground, with a comprehensively strong slate of teams playing in impressive facilities, including upcoming renovations to the Coliseum. Swann hopes to build on Haden's work.
"I am not here to clean house or to make overwhelming changes," Swann said. "I think there's a great team in place, and we're going to move it forward."