The USC athletic department, along with the university, is still dealing with the fallout from the massive college admissions cheating scandal that was revealed last month.
The nationwide scandal — which involved celebrities and the wealthy cheating their children’s way into universities with fake or altered test scores, even posing them as athletes at times — resulted in the firing of USC’s water polo coach and a senior administrator.
In an effort to get the university back on track, leaders and trustees held a retreat in Southern California last weekend.
Instead of joining them, however, USC athletic director Lynn Swann was on the other side of the country signing autographs for money.
Swann, joined by NFL legends Randy Moss and Emmitt Smith, appeared at a memorabilia show on Saturday outside of Washington D.C., according to the Los Angeles Times. The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and NFL Hall-of-Famer took pictures, met with fans and signed helmets and jerseys for nearly two hours.
Fans, per the report, paid at least $220 each for him to do so.
Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Smith charged more, up to $270 and $285, respectively.
USC spokespeople told the Los Angeles Times that Swann was invited to the retreat, but that he wasn’t required to attend as there was “nothing critical on the agenda related to him.” He also apparently booked the autograph show months ago.
While there is nothing wrong with signing autographs for money — retired sports figures do it all the time and make thousands of dollars doing it each year — doing so at a time of such turmoil at the university isn’t a good look.
Swann, when the scandal first broke, insisted that he was unaware of what was going on within his department. Once he first learned, he was “blindsided,” he said.
When former USC linebacker Ricki Ellison found out that’s what Swann was doing, he was shocked — especially at a time when “the program is unraveling.” Ellison, who played on USC’s co-national championship team in 1978, couldn’t understand how Swann signing autographs at a show like that boots credibility for USC.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Ellison told the Los Angeles Times. “Lynn’s a good guy, but isn’t his salary in the millions? Why does he need to do this? It’s just embarrassing.”
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