For years the USC athletic department has commemorated Trojans who have won an NCAA individual championship, earned first team All-American honors or secured an Olympic gold medal by installing a bronze medallion on Heritage Hall’s Honors Rail, which presides proudly above the first-floor museum.
The athletic department might soon encounter an enviable quandary: how to recognize USC’s exceptional student-athletes once the rail no longer affords space for these medallions.
In the meantime and in anticipation of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the athletic department is commencing a yearlong tribute to its former Olympic athletes as part of the “Cardinal and Gold Medal Heritage” salute.
“We are extremely proud of our unparalleled Olympic heritage and, with the 2012 Olympic Games on the horizon, we felt it was important to salute and acknowledge that tradition,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “I know our fans will be as excited as I am to see our past and current Olympians and to relive the many successes that Trojan athletes have had in Olympic competition.”
This tribute aims to recognize USC’s unparalleled Olympic tradition, one which places the university ahead of all others in Olympians, gold medalists and combined medalists. Since 1904, 393 Trojans have participated in the Olympics for a combined 57 nations in 28 different sports.
These athletes have won a total of 122 gold medals. If USC were its own country, this gold medal count would place it 12th in the world.
As part of the salute, the athletic department will invite former Olympians to appear at sporting events in the fall with accompanying videoboard highlight clips, display banners in front of Heritage Hall and contribute footage and interviewees to FSN Prime Ticket and ESPN Radio 710 for short feature stories.
All of this effort complements the Pac-12’s “Follow the Pac-12 to London” campaign, which endeavors to highlight the conference’s vaunted Olympic history.