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President-Elect Nikias Begins the Reform

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Whether or not you would describe the culture of USC athletics as "corrupt" is irrelevant at the present time. Some attest that the university culture has always fostered an environment of corruption, while others continue to argue that the latest NCAA sanctions were simply isolated incidents and not a reflection of some larger ordeal. As for me, put me in the camp that say USC athletics is no better or worse than the rest of the college sports world. But regardless of our personal beliefs, there remains little doubt that for a USC athletic department aiming to recover from the latest NCAA ruling that it was time for a change. And today, we're finally seeing that, as Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this morning that USC will replace 17-year athletic director Mike Garrett with former Trojan signal caller Pat Haden.

Longtime USC favorite son Pat Haden will replace Mike Garrett as athletic director, beginning Aug. 3.

The official announcement is expected to come later Tuesday from the school's president-elect, Max Nikias, who will take over the position from retiring Steven Sample. That transition will also occur Aug. 3.

Garrett, the school's former Heisman Trophy-winning running back who has been USC's athletic director for the last 17 years, is expected to take the school's retirement package. He is 66.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would classify this latest news as "surprising." Garrett has been on the hot seat for some time , and with a new president in Nikias taking over in August, it was only a matter of time before Garrett got a pink sleep delivered to his Heritage Hall desk. Granted, this happened much sooner than many of us expected it to, but hey, I'm not complaining.

And for starters, Haden was the logical replacement. He's a former player, a Rhodes Scholar, a partner in the private investment firm of Riordan, Lewis & Haden, and a 19-year member of the board of trustees. In short, he's a smart guy. Add to the fact that he was instrumental in the hiring of Lane Kiffin last January, and it's easy to see why Nikias tabbed Haden as the replacement for Garrett.

Furthermore, Haden is already looking to start cleaning up, for lack of a better term, Garrett's mess. Thus far, it's been announced that he's already bringing in J.K. McKay as associate athletic director in order to tighten up the ship, and has begun talking about winning the "right way:"

"Our goal will be to compete ferociously but also ethically," Haden said. "There are plenty of models for that out there. Winning any way other than the right way is not winning at all."

He said his guideline on that has never changed, that he would never do anything he knew would embarrass his mom.

"She's no longer alive," he said, "but that doesn't change my rule."

True to his word, Haden, along with Nikias, has already begun working to fix USC's damaged public image, as Annenberg T.V. News reported that the university will remove all jerseys and murals recognizing both Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo will be taken down in mid-August.

Nikias also addressed the scandals that came to plague Garrett's reign as athletic director, including NCAA sanctions that came last month banning USC from the football postseason and taking away 10 scholarships for the next two years.

"I have instructed the senior vice president for administration to remove athletic jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush by mid-August - before the incoming class of students moves on campus - from Heritage Hall, the Galen Center, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Nikias also said Reggie Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy will be revoked and returned to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August.

It's tough for any Trojan fan not like what he's reading thus far today. Truly, it must be Christmas in July.

Fight On!