USC athletic director and former Trojans football standout Lynn Swann has resigned his post, effective immediately, school president Carol Folt announced Monday. Swann has been USC's athletic director since July 1, 2016, when he was hired to succeed Pat Haden.
"Lynn has been a leader on and off the field at USC for nearly five decades, and he will forever be a valued member of the Trojan Family," Folt wrote in a letter to the university community.
Former compliance director Dave Roberts will serve as the interim athletic director while Folt leads a search committee to find Swann's replacement. USC trustee Suzanne Nora Johnson will head up that committee.
"Our athletics department puts our student-athletes first by pursuing excellence with integrity," Folt wrote. "We will build on the traditions and strengths of our exceptional athletics program. Our outstanding coaches, administrators and student-athletes work tirelessly every day both in the classroom and on the playing field, to embody the very best of the Trojan spirit. Our athletics department, working together with faculty and staff across the university, is focused on preparing all of our students for success in life, wherever they may go. We will keep our tremendous Trojan heritage and tradition of strength going forward in all of our athletics programs. There is so much to look forward to and I am excited about our future."
USC has reportedly been preparing for Swann's departure for weeks and has already begun looking at potential high-level candidates, Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reports.
Folt commented on the timing of Swann's resignation (via the Los Angeles Times):
USC president Carol Folt on the timing of Swann’s resignation:— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) September 9, 2019
“You try to get things going in the fall,” Folt told the Times. "He felt that this was the professional thing to do, was resign and allow me to build my team. That really is the gist of it."
Swann's time as athletic director hasn't exactly gone according to plan. He was at the helm of the program at a time in which USC was subject to a federal investigation that included wealthy donors using athletic department standards and fake recruiting profiles for their children to gain admission to the school. Assistant athletic director Donna Heinel was fired as a result of that scandal, which was tabbed "Operation Varsity Blues" by investigators. Men's water polo head coach Jovan Vavic, former women's head soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin and former assistant soccer coach Laura Janke were all indicted in the admissions scandal.
Swann told the Los Angeles Times in March that he intended to stay with the program in the wake of "Operation Varsity Blues."
"I have not considered resigning. I'm committed to this school and I'm committed to this job," he said. "This was an opportunity that presented itself to me. I never went out looking for this job, but this is a job I feel I'm prepared for."
Things weren't so rosy on the field either. Football coach Clay Helton was nearly dismissed after a 5-7 campaign in 2018 despite two straight New Year's Six bowl appearances in the first two seasons as full-time coach of the Trojans. The school announced in December that Helton would be retained, but he entered 2019 on one of the hottest seats in America.
An All-American wide receiver for the Trojans from 1971-74, Swann was a member of the 1972 USC national championship team and was a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.