Lynn Swann will be the new athletic director at USC, the University announced on Wednesday. Swann will take over in July for Pat Haden, who will step down from the post on June 30.
“To his new role, Lynn Swann will bring the heart and soul of a Trojan,” President C.L. Max Nikias said in a letter to the University. “He shares our profound dedication to combining academic excellence with athletic excellence.”
Swann was a wide receiver on USC’s 1972 undefeated national championship team. In 1973, he served as a team captain and was named a Consensus All-American. He also played on two Rose Bowl teams in his USC career.
Drafted in 1974 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Swann spent nine seasons in the NFL, where he amassed four Super Bowl rings and was named MVP of Super Bowl X in 1976. He made the Pro Bowl three times and in 1981 was the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner. Swann, 64, is a member of both of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
“This new role as AD fits with my life focus of leadership, mentoring young people, helping others, and giving them the tools they need to grow and achieve,” Swann said in a press release.
After retiring in 1983, Swann went into broadcasting, calling a variety of sporting events for ABC. In 2006, he ran an unsuccessful bid for governor of Pennsylvania as the Republican nominee, where he would have become the state’s first African-American governor.
Swann also served as the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness from 2002-2005, named to the post by President George W. Bush. He has been on the boards of several companies including Heinz, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hershey.
Swann, who has a degree from USC in public relations, will now return to run the University’s athletics program.
“I am excited about coming back to USC — its growth and success under President Nikias has been phenomenal and my family and I are looking forward to being a part of that,” Swann said. “As athletic director, my goals for the student-athletes will be to graduate, to win and to experience.”
Swann attended Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. where he starred in both football [JUMP] and track and field, winning the long jump title at the CIF California state track and field championships in 1970.
Swann is the third consecutive former USC football player to be named to the athletics director position. Both Haden and his predecessor, Mike Garrett, were well-known ex-players.
Though Swann has experience in athletics, broadcasting, politics and business, he — like Haden and Garrett — has not been involved in athletic administration. He cites his education at USC as a stepping stone for his post-football career.
“USC opened doors for me,” Swann said. “I learned about myself, and my education created a pathway to go forward. I was always looking toward preparing for that career beyond football.”
Haden announced in February that he would retire at the end of June after a five-and-a-half year tenure at the helm. Swann inherits a program in a much more stable position than when Haden took over, with no sanctions imposed and both the head football and basketball coaches — Clay Helton and Andy Enfield — signed to
Haden undersaw a rather tumultuous period with the football team under sanctions and controversial head coaches. Haden infamously fired Lane Kiffin in 2013 and relieved Steve Sarkisian of his duties this past season following Sarkisian’s issues with alcohol addiction.
“The Trojan family will be forever grateful to Pat for stewarding USC athletics through some of its most challenging times,” Nikias said.
More than 200 candidates were considered for the position in a search that Nikias stated a few months ago would be “national in scope.”
“The pool was diverse and highly qualified,” Nikias said.
Ultimately, the university once again decided on a familiar face.
Pete Carroll, the popular former head football coach, voiced his support of the hire on Twitter.
“Excited to hear Lynn Swann is the next Athletic Director at USC!” Carroll said. “He will be an outstanding leader and great champion for the Trojan cause!”
Nikias and Swann will hold a press conference on Thursday morning to formally introduce the new athletic director.
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 11:03 p.m.