Athletic Director Lynn Swann addressed the arrest of USC men’s basketball associate head coach Tony Bland and the future of USC during a talk at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Wednesday night.
Bland was arrested as part of a corruption ring along with three other NCAA assistant basketball coaches, according to federal papers that were released to the public on Tuesday. The ring allegedly used bribes to connect top college basketball athletes with financial advisers.
Swann made clear that there was not much information he could share regarding the corruption ring, as the investigation was still ongoing. He explained that USC Athletics was working closely with the USC Office of Compliance, and that the University would cooperate in full with the investigation.
“The fact that this is a federal investigation and not instigated by the NCAA is part of the reason it’s receiving so much attention,” Swann said. “Just because there was a press conference doesn’t mean that the investigation is over.”
He said that USC is launching an internal investigation in addition to those being conducted by the federal government and the NCAA.
“USC is extremely disappointed in having an assistant coach involved with the scandal,” Swann said.
Swann emphasized the need to be proactive and take steps to ensure that students and faculty have a plan to help them make good decisions.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and I will act when I smell smoke,” Swann said. “I’m not interested in waiting until there’s a fire. Had we had any indication that something was wrong in any of our departments, we would have taken action sooner.”
Swann also commented on political topics, such as the recent controversy over whether it’s disrespectful for athletes to protest social justice issues by taking a knee during the national anthem.
“The national anthem only takes so long, you kneel, so what happens after that?” Swann said. “You don’t need to make a hollow gesture to draw attention to something by disrespecting something else.”
Instead, Swann advocated that a true difference can only be made off of the field.
Swann also said he did not believe student athletes should be compensated by their respective colleges — another controversial topic that has come up in recent years.
“They are compensated in the form of a scholarship,” Swann said. “Plus, only one percent of athletes actually have a shot at making it.”