ESPN’s investigative program, Outside the Lines, recently profiled Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who has overseen a tumultuous past few months in USC’s athletic department.
The report delved into Garrett’s history with the university, which goes as far back as his time at running back for USC, during which Garrett was honored as the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner.
A running back with a small 5-foot-9 stature, Garrett led the nation in 1965 with 267 carries and 1,440 rushing yards and was eventually drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.
After his time in the NFL, Garrett earned his law degree and was hired as USC’s athletic director in 1993.
That is where the profile picks up, documenting the department’s ups and downs in Garrett’s ongoing stint as athletics director.
During his time at the university, Garrett has seen the basketball team get as far as the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament and, under the leadership of Pete Carroll, the football team claim two national championships.
Garrett’s choice of Carroll in 2001 brought the department under fire, especially after Carroll’s less-than-stellar record in the NFL. But Garrett’s choice was vindicated by Carroll’s success during his nine-year stay at USC.
Garrett’s accomplishment in the funding and building of the Galen Center, which opened in 2006, was also noted.
Recently, the department has been scrutinized again for controversy surrounding the recruitments of football player Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo. An Outside the Lines report in May 2008 revealed some controversy surrounding the relationship between Mayo, the university and Mayo confidant Rodney Guillory.
The profile of Garrett returned to questions surrounding the Mayo recruitment and interviewed a variety of USC officials and sports figures, although Garrett declined to be interview for the show.
Former USC men’s basketball coach Henry Bibby, whom Garrett fired abruptly only four games into his ninth season in 2004, was interviewed by the program and featured extensively.
Bibby described Garrett as “guarded” even as USC will soon hear the outcome of NCAA hearings held in February regarding the Bush and Mayo situations.
Former USC forward Keith Wilkinson also spoke with ESPN, telling OTL that Garrett visited with the team after an overtime loss to Memphis and harshly addressed a visibly shaken.
According to many of those interviewed, Garrett had a hands-on approach to the university’s major sports, attending practices and visiting locker rooms on a regular basis.
Former USC fullback Brandon Hancock — in talking with recently graduated members of the USC football team — revealed Garrett has recently shied away from direct contact with the teams.
Garrett’s relationship with former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd was also investigated, though Floyd also reportedly declined an interview request from the program.
The circumstances surrounding Floyd’s resignation from his post as USC’s men’s basketball coach also raised suspicion in the department. It was later revealed the relationship between Garrett and Floyd was strained during the time directly before the coach’s resignation.