USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Sam Cooper
(AP Photo/Richard Hartog)
(AP Photo/Richard Hartog)

Pat Haden will retire from his position as USC athletic director, effective June 30. The news was announced Friday in a letter from university president C.L. Max Nikias.

"It has been a tremendous honor serving my alma mater, a school I love so much, as well as serving Max Nikias, our coaches and staff and, most importantly, our student-athletes," Haden said in a statement. "I am proud of what has been accomplished here the past six years and knowing that USC Athletics is on an upward trajectory. I look forward to finishing out this academic year as athletic director and then spending time on the Coliseum project."

Once his tenure reaches its conclusion, Haden will stay with the university for a one-year term to “guide (USC’s) renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

“Beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2017, he will maintain an office in the Bovard Administration Building, working closely with me and reporting directly to me as he heads a fundraising initiative focused on renewing the nation’s most venerable stadium and the home of Trojan football,” Nikias wrote.

Haden, 63, has served as athletic director since August 2010, when he replaced Mike Garrett after the football program was hit with sanctions related to the Reggie Bush situation.

From Nikias' letter:

He took on this role at a time when the department faced unprecedented pressure, externally and internally, requiring nothing less than a Herculean effort to rebuild its foundation for the long term. USC Athletics had received NCAA penalties of unprecedented harshness only weeks earlier; and its physical and academic infrastructure urgently required improvement to bring it in line with the university’s overall dramatic progress in recent years.

Pat has accomplished USC’s objectives here through his distinct blend of integrity, energy, wisdom, and character. He moved into Heritage Hall on August 3, 2010, the same day I stepped into the USC presidency. And during a time in which intercollegiate athletics has been undergoing unpredictable transformation at a national level, Pat developed and executed a blueprint for how athletics and academics can reinforce one another at an academically elite private research university with a public-minded mission. 

Working with Dave Roberts, vice president of athletics compliance, Pat has created a model for NCAA compliance at a top intercollegiate athletics program, especially one such as ours, which operates under the brightest of spotlights. Together, they have strengthened compliance during one of the most volatile and high-stakes periods in Trojan Athletics’ history.

The disproportionate severity of the NCAA penalties on Trojan football, which Pat inherited on his first day as athletic director, posed an unprecedented short- and long-term challenge; indeed, every other program facing the same penalties ended up enduring losing seasons, lengthy rebuilding processes, or both. Because of Pat’s leadership during the sanctions period, USC came through it with the third-best record in the Pac-12.

His adamantine priority has been the growth and academic success of each and every USC student-athlete—and, as a consequence, he has improved student-athlete grade point averages and graduation rates to all-time highs. 

Haden fired Lane Kiffin during the 2013 season and hired Steve Sarkisian from Washington. The Trojans went 9-4 in Sarkisian’s first season in 2014, but Sarkisian was fired after five games in 2015 due to substance abuse issues. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton assumed the head-coaching role on an interim basis, and Haden later named Helton the team’s permanent head coach in November.

Haden also served on the College Football Playoff selection committee, but stepped down in October due to health reasons.

Moving forward, Nikias said in his letter that he will work with the Brill Neumann executive search firm to help with the hiring of USC’s next athletic director.

“His firm brings valuable experience working with USC, and me directly, on previous executive searches, including senior vice president positions,” Nikias wrote. “The process will be national in scope, with all proceedings held in the strictest confidence, for the benefit of USC Athletics and all qualified candidates.”

For more USC news, visit TrojanSports.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!