USC Morning Buzz: Culture Change Must Come Soon

What will today’s scandal be at USC?

USC has become a freak show. Part of it stems from the entrenched and entitled attitude that exists for a segment of the university and its well-heeled donor class.

Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic were long-time employees. Vavic did whatever he wanted and was keeping USC relevant when it came to winning NCAA titles. Heinel was the No. 3-ranking administrator in an athletic dept. where the No. 1 (Lynn Swann) lets others deal with the day-to-day operations, so there was little oversight of her.

Just by coincidence, I recently was told that a long-time athletic dept. employee asked a member of the Board of Trustees to help get his child into USC. I’m telling you because these same people will scoff at you for complaining about your season tickets getting moved or wondering why USC only cares about its big donors?

But when they want a favor, they know exactly who to call.

Max Nikias didn’t want a competent athletic director. He wanted a football star. With Pat Haden and Lynn Swann. And when I questioned the Swann hire, a USC official immediately lectured me about not understanding the Trojan way of doing things. Pretty funny since I went to USC.

Too much of the Trojan way involves money, cliques and entitlement. If you don’t live in Palos Verdes or Manhattan Beach, you might not get to belong to the club like so many USC coaches and administrators. A lot of it involves trust funds too.

Can it change? Not under the current regime.

But at least no one is able to ignore anymore those who say USC needs a culture change. And change has to come eventually.

  • Oh, USC lost to Cal State Fullerton, 10-4, on Tuesday in the Trojans’ first real road game of the season. USC is 5-10.
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71 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: Culture Change Must Come Soon

  1. Sad to say an awful lot of truth there – it also flows directly from the ‘lock’ West 28th Street has had on the school for over 100 years – the fraternities and sororities. All schools have successful alumni that have a strong influence on the course ‘they’ want the school to take – USC is no exception.

    At a minimum re-structure the entire athletic dept. with real oversight – the entire university has no oversight anywhere – that perv Tyndall is proof as well as honoring the former medical school dean Puliafito with a retirement party and bonus rather than forcefully sacking him.

    The Board of Trustees have got to find a new president asap – the problem I sense is that too many are fearful their influence will be cut back and this is the main reason there has been no move for a permanent new president.

    Change in impending – like it or not – USC will never, thankfully, ever be the same.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. While I generally agree with most of what you say, the “lock W. 28th street had on the School” is pure bullshit. The BOT’s is the problem. Each chosen for their donations, rather than their competence and ability to prudently administer proper oversight when/where needed. Supposedly, there are 80 some Trustees. How is that remotely manageable? Do you know any Fortune 500 companies with 80 board members? Nikias is the real culprit here. His distorted view of raising the most $ was triumphant over logic, discipline and well thought out management of the university. In the case of USC, greed won the day.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thumbs up – BOT is much worse than incompetent. If they profess to care about the university as much as they say, then the ones who don’t belong there (and they know who they are) should resign immediately.

        But of course they won’t.

        It is now going to be virtually impossible to hire a high quality president. Who would want to work with this Board?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well ‘Linkster’ here’s the problem – most generalizations in life have more than a kernel of truth attached to them – they are credible because the basic premise rings true.

        Of all the schools listed: Stanford, UCLA, Wake Forest, TX, Georgetown, USD, – ONLY USC had more than ‘one’ individual named – in fact USC had 3+ and that clown who got the deal first – Singer- hit the ‘trifecta’ when he was able to get the head of athletic vetting admission officer on his ‘payola’ rolladex’ – the ‘nordic’ Obergruppenführer Donna Heinel….she cleared a cool $1.3 million for 10 placements.

        Like it or not (and i guess you don’t) USC, sad to say, has a core of alums that do indeed have that moniker that the rest of us are mocked with – University of Spoiled Children.

        ‘blank’ West 28th

        Like

    2. Alv —I am hoping that Swann will soon explain the process by which the disgraced USC swim coach could be involved in facilitating the admission of applicants claiming to be high school football players intent on playing for USC without the football coaching staff knowing about it.
      I would just like to know how that works. Swann should be interested in how that works, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed…
        Thinking right about now there’s some serious coaching of the (witnesses/defendants/accused) going on – only wish so much effort went into coaching the football players (at least heretofore)…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. James —Hilarious. I guess if folks have to choose between two courses of conduct, they’ll always spend more time on the one that saves their own asses……
        #AsKindaAConcessionToTheShortnessOfLife…..

        Like

      3. I’m thinking, a la several…recent vintage (mass, as opposed to non, attribution)…politicians of note…we might very well start seeing certain individuals wearing not entirely concealed ear pieces (would be funny if they just wore the QB version of the football helmet) over which their lines are fed…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Very funny, James. [Isn’t this whole thing starting to take on preposterous “House of Cards” dimensions]?
        #RegardingScott—AsNixonSaidInHisInauguralAddress…
        #”SometimesTheRightManAndTheRightMomentComeTogether”

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Worse than both the House of Cards show (to include the Kevin Spacey aspect, which…hard to believe this…wouldn’t come as a shock in the present circumstances)…and the “House of Cards” assertion by another (better) Kevin (Costner) in “JFK” (come to think of it…”Clay Shaw is Clay Bertrand? I mean, Clay Helton?” Think it was you who recently mused that it isn’t impossible that Helton was an outside plant installed to destroy the program from within…of course, now we know that they need not have bothered)…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. James — Agree with every word (except that Costner is better than Spacey —remember when the Chronicle described his “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” as “Robin Hood: Prince of Dweebs”?) —- but getting back to your principle point, in the end it may well turn out that Helton was the FBI’s “Insurance Policy” in the event of a Trump victory (I’m not sure of exactly what sense that makes—it gets complicated — but maybe Ted can take it from here)…..
        #ISuspectThatSoonItWillAllBecomeTooClear

        Liked by 1 person

      7. His Robin Hood was less than stellar…but JFK, Dances With Wolves (he thought he was dancing with wolves? what about Dancing With Wolf?), No Way Out, Bull Durham…I’ll take him any day (although the other’s performance in LA Confidential…now, here’s a whole ‘nother Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole to take this thing down…LA Confidential…very hush, hush…)…

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Pure bs! Rusosoviet huh? Some left wing geed loser who can’t even be down with the hypocritical pseudo liberals and the ethnic cliques that run things now, that are half way to making USC some composite of Brandeis and Nanjing U, with a few children of Hollywood limousine leftists if they pay enough. 28th street? Who AEPi, or the AGC? The old 28th St. doesn’t even exist anymore, or it has to hide. And that’s what’s wrong with USC. USC needs the old row and old SC back.

      Like

      1. Yeah that’ll work let’s all have those white-bread only hoe downs and running over to the Tri Delt house on a ‘panty raid’ circa 1962 right? Hey love your inference of Hebrew and Chinese influence – yeah that’s what’s caused this mess huh?

        Now go get your ‘squires’ or ‘knights’ (those fools in their short shorts) to block a whole section of the Coliseum for your ‘brothers’ after the kegger at McKeevers

        Like

  2. Stories of this corrupt buying of admissions through the Athletic Department are pouring out from SC alums across the country. Apparently this has been standard operating procedure at SC for decades.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Truth! The crazy part is, correct me if I am wrong, a private institution can admit anyone they want. Why go through all of the money exchanges and back door deals?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. James —It almost qualifies as a supernatural event that it was, of all people, Miguelito who reminded us of those words…..
        #….QuotingFromAFilmDescribedAsA”CollasalPieceOfShit”…
        #…in”ThisIsTheEnd”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Perhaps we can set it to the recently updated Alannis Morrisette tune (which has a quite humorous video)…at least it will rid you of “Three Blind Mice”…McMigs on the other hand…quit sipping that nasty stuff through your McStraw!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. They accept federal funding and qualify students for federal loans so there are some rules they are supposed to play by with regards to admissions, but you’re right that it’s a lot more ‘open ended’ or ‘case by case’ or ‘corrupt’ (pick a word) at private schools than it is at public schools

      Like

    2. Brumby —Why “back door deals” instead of publicly relaxing admission requirements?………..
      #…BecauseUSCHasStandards,Mister…
      #Ok,PretendStandardsButStandardsNevertheless

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah —And USC probably plans to do something about that at some future date, tebow…..
      #…AFTERMaxHasFinished”CleaningUp”……
      #FirstThingsFirst….
      #…InEverybody’sBestInterest

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn Swann’s statement regarding the bribery charges within the USC Athletic Dept.

    “I acknowledge and understand the Athletic Department’s deficiencies in areas that include culture, discipline, schemes, personnel and staff”

    – Lynn Swann

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! Hilarious! The first time I read that statement I didn’t realize it could (& probably will) be trotted out umpteen times a year to cover all varieties of debacles. Swann has penned the perfect all-purpose non statement, ready to be tucked into any paragraph….
      #..Extra!Extra!SwannDiscoversUniversalSolvent!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. This is the culture that produced the strong football team under Pete Carroll. (Watch ESPN’s documentary to see just the public part.)
    You can’t have it both ways.
    Integrity = Average Football.

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    1. What “culture” are you referring to, bribery?

      Pete Carroll’s excellent coaching was responsible for building a strong and dominant USC football program.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. tebow —I guess John missed your highlight films a couple of days ago.
        Those quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, linebackers, etc, reminded us of an environment light years removed from today’s USC “culture.” And, fuck, let’s not even call what USC has today a “culture”. A culture is something that at least a few of the people who are part of it actually agree with & like. The present USC “culture” is something that no one likes….,
        #First”Culture”OfIt’sKindInHistory.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Nothing’s changing, Scott. You went to USC around the same time I did. USC is what it always is, and always will be: U$C, The University of Spoiled Children, The University of Second Choice. It’s the fallback school for rich, unserious, California kids.

    The genius of Sample and Nikias was to their ability hide all that by gaming the system, and make people think that USC was endeavoring to become an all-around elite global University from top to bottom, instead of being a large, well-respected West Coast graduate research institution populated with pretty but bubbled-headed undergrad co-eds and jocks who are there primarily to fund the whole enterprise by creating links to the school and the money it so craves.

    But the last few years have pretty much laid waste to that fiction and exposed what USC really is. Expect undergraduate applications to decline, and expect the “quality” of the freshman admits to decline as well. In a few years USC will settle back to the mean, and instead of pretending to be a Stanford lite, it will go back to being a better Arizona State.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The blogger mentioned money and cliques and being from Palos Verdes and Manhattan Beach as being keys to get into the university.

    The thing was President Nikias changed that for the worse. Max instead started focusing on international students (India, China, etc.) and all the money and connections those foregin students would bring. Max ignored qualified local kids and legacies. It was no longer about being from ritzy beach communities in California but where in Asia you were from.

    And that is part of the reason why parents became desperate and scrambled to look for ways (legal and illegal) to sneak their kids in to college. Because Max and others fell in love with being a destination for international kids. Max (who is also a foreigner who came to the states to study) just didn’t give a damn about American kids.

    In Max’s eyes, American kids weren’t good enough for him and his ego.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Under Sample’s leadership, USC became world-renowned in the fields of communication and multimedia technologies, received national acclaim for its innovative community partnerships, and improved its status as one of the nation’s leading research universities. In 1999, USC was ranked #41 among universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

    In 2010, the final year of Sample’s term, USC was ranked #26 in the same listing (USC is now ranked #23).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. IMO Sample was a great President. Approachable, genuine and he supported athletics. Also, raised $ which is all college Presidents do now. He got caught up in the Bush scandal, which wasn’t of his doing so he got swept out along with Garrett and we got Nikias and Haden. Clusterfuck does not do justice to both of them.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Steven Sample left because of health issues. He was the one who saw the future in raising USC academically and did so as noted from 51 t0 26 on his watch.

        Max Nikias did a great job as a fundraiser – this rot is directly linked to no oversight and cultural indifference to potential problems that in the past could be swept under the rug and were. This isn’t 1969 anymore it is 2019.

        A lot of schools got caught in this mess but it was USC that had the worst mess – three corrupt individuals found by Singer – not 1 not 2 but ‘3’!

        Like

  9. If you’re looking for a nexus between this current fiasco & the football program then I suggest you look at the McGlashan kid, all 145lbs of him that was recruited as a ‘punter’ out of a high school in Marin without a football team. If he was rostered…say adious to one or more seasons.
    It cost his pop several hundred grand up front. His father is a work of art. Tops on the list of ‘ethical’ investors from Silicon Valley. Roflmao.
    I’d also pay good money to get a list of the registered political party of the(so far) 50 people involved in this scheme.
    Anybody have any guesses? Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! I kinda hate to say it, Cal75 —-but you beat everybody to the punch with that very smart observation.
      #IHerebyForgiveYouForAllTheRestOfWhatYou’veWritten

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cal75 —Maybe Owns coulda figured it out —but explain to me why Wanda, Haden, Swann and Helton couldn’t……
        #OrDon’tIWantToKnow?
        #btwMyMessageWasOneOfForgivenessNotHate

        Liked by 2 people

      2. When it’s this bad…all we can do is try to find some modicum of amusement (though little about it is amusing)…

        So something out of “Slapshot” … actually, “Youngblood” (think there’s actually a scene it that one where they actually play the tune)…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. James — Ha! [Now, whenever I see 3 USC spokespeople sharing a podium, guess which tune I’ll be hearing in my head?]…
        #DamnYou,James

        Liked by 2 people

      1. M. L. —-Bingo!
        Folks who believe in love & compassion for all humanity but wouldn’t let a thirsty person take a drink out of one of their Olympic size swimming pools. [And if you don’t believe that go to a Stanford University Fund Raiser one of these nights and wear a blue suit instead of a tux]……

        Like

  10. For all of the criticism that Wolf takes, he has repeatedly cycled back to touching on the culture of corruption at the top, at least in the athletic department…was just explaining to someone this morning that you can trace this back (not saying blame, but trace back) to the final days of McKay The Elder (in 1972, which we’ve all celebrated as that team in the discussion for greatest college team of all-time…featuring Swann, Haden & McKay The Younger)…at least (realize there was a period of probation/scandal going back into at least the 1950s, but writings about that era – e.g. Wilkinson’s Oklahoma dynasty – indicate that blatant cheating was just as ubiquitous in the post-WW II period as it is at present)…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. James –I don’t include J. K. McKay in what I’m about to say, but as to the other named individuals (and about a half dozen more), I have to think the great John McKay would be pretty disappointed in how they turned out. John McKay was all about responsibility and, as he wrote in his book, “The Wit and Wisdom of John McKay” (originally titled “First and 15”), “never excusing yourself for doing a bad job.”

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Location: NCAA HQ,
    0900. John picks up phone.
    ‘Morning Bob, it’s John, how’s retirement going these days?’

    Bob: Great John. Enjoying the grand kids. Marge is away visiting her parents in BFE & once in awhile I get a 20″ trout. What’s up?’

    John: ‘Bob, the reason I called is to see if you can come back for a few months. Something’s come up. Real big.’
    Bob: ‘They get another pedo at PSU?
    John: ‘No’
    Bob: ‘Another wife beater in Ohio?’
    John: ‘Nope. Better. We got SC again & what’s great is the FBI did all the leg work.’
    Bob: ‘I’ll be there in the morning.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A fella can get into a lot of trouble tapping into the NCAA phone system….
      #….ALittleTooMuchOfA”Ring”OfTruthToThisExchange …
      #…ButTheTimeIsOffByAFewHours…
      #MakeIt0600!”SorryForWakingYouUp,Bob,Etc…”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Location: NCAA HQ day 2
        Ring ring, John picks up the phone:
        NCAA HQ, John speaking,
        (In a deep voice)’Hello John, this is the president of USC, how are you?’
        John: ‘Fine, & you?’
        Prez: ‘Say John, I’m calling to ask you to go easy on SC this time. Do you think you could go easy on us?’
        John: (quickly looking up her bio on wiki & noticing no mention of husband or children). ‘Well I see that the University has made great strides in reforming itself, I think we can just take away that punter’s scholi for one year & call it good. Would that should OK?’
        Prez: ‘Thanks John.’

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Slam Nikias all you want, but in the current WSJ College Rankings USC at #17 is only behind Caltech and Stanford for CA schools. My particular USC degree carries immense weight in my arena of Silicon Valley.

    Like

    1. Nikias would be remembered more fondly if he didn’t try to minimize football and/or athletics in pushing USC higher academically. He could have accommodated athletics into his grand plan.

      #ButHeStillScrewedUpAnywaysWhenHeLookedTheOtherWayWithThePervGynocologist

      Like

  13. Romping in Regal Rita – your particular USC degree in Silicon Valley is the doormat that Cal and Stanford graduates walk on before they enter their offices every morning. “Immense weight” must refer to the mud their shoes scrape off on the doormat. People must be confusing your “USC” degree for the University of Santa Clara that sits in the shadow of Stanford every day at 3 p.m. But, let’s talk more about what’s important to all of us who studied at USC and had pride when we received our degrees at graduation. Our school is wrecked. There is no doubt about it. Scandal after scandal. NCAA investigations, bribery, corruption, sexual assaults, federal indictments, FBI investigations, an administration and athletic department that cares less about alumni and have no concerns about a shakedown for season tickets. Athletic Department Associate Director Ron Orr in charge of the Trojan Athletic Fund that tossed people aside for the benefit of private suites at the Coliseum. Reggie Bush’s parents received less in that scandal and Bush was stripped of his Heisman, and banned from campus. O.J. Mayo taking money, Tony Bland federally charged for his conduct. When does it end ? Where does it all start ? The Athletic Department and Max Nikias, Lynn Swann, Pat Haden, Mike Garrett, and Swann’s close assistants. Why is Swann still employed by USC. Has he not any decency to leave ? The same holds true for Nikias, Haden, the Assistant Directors in the Athletic Department, and all the Admissions Office employees who looked the other way while fraud was perpetrated in plain sight for years in the “admissions process.”

    I’ve said it before. The only way to heal this university is to rid the campus of Haden, Nikias, the ENTIRE athletic department, the head football coach, Lynn Swann, and those Board of Trustee members who promoted Haden, Nikias and Swann into their current positions. What a corrupt group of elitists and pretenders.

    If you care about your degree, the reputation of our school, and the future of USC on an international stage, write to the NCAA and request it immediately conduct an investigation into these allegations of bribery, forged admission decisions, and corruption. We need a clean slate. USC needs to have the Death Penalty imposed (just like SMU) and get rid of this corrupt Athletic Department (all employees) and our inept President, Wanda Austin. Let the Coliseum sit empty for the next ten years. The current administration and Athletic Department employees care only about one thing – money, and how much of it they can get from all of us. When you shut off the lights at the Coliseum, that is a major financial loss to the school, while it pays rent, and it is the only way people at the top will pay attention to what they have now ruined.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That would be the LAST organization I would ever work with. And please don’t suggest UCLA alum either, even though I was accepted there and chose USC over that school. Class of 1979 here.

        Like

      2. The difference between rationality (me) and irrationality (P.T.) doesn’t usually come under the classification of ‘difference of opinion.’ (On the other hand) If and when it’s PROVED that the coaches of the major sports were in on this scam, I’ll join P. T. in his call for the NCAA to step in and do their thing. (You’ll notice that P.T. jumps from “I want an investigation’ to ‘USC needs the Death Penalty imposed!’ —-that’s skipping a base, yes)?
        P.S.
        Leave Foghorn outta this mess–outta respect for the great Chuck Jones.

        Like

  14. Proud Trojan – you have an anachronistic view of USC – the student body has transformed over the past 30 yrs since I was there and spewing my DNA all over the place, and a good chunk could care less about football. Meanwhile the reputation with Fortune 500 recruiters has gone through the roof as they all know the combined social & academic environment breeds a certain kind of candidate. It was an acknowledged part of my pedigree that attracted my current employer to recruit me away from my prior longtime employer. Mark Stevens has played a large role in promoting the USC brand in the SV community.

    Do you work or live up here? Stanford CS/EE either do startups or go into VC/private equity, a world that is still Ivy and Stanford. Cal turns out great engineers but I don’t run across as many Cal people in business roles up here as you would think. Santa Clara is a 2nd/3rd tier regional private that is a good place to get hired into entry level tech roles from but probably less so than San Jose St (much harder to get into than SCU), which is now the class of Cal St and probably better than many UCs. USC, however, is in a class of its own.

    This current storm will pass, just as the dark days immediately after the Rodney King riots when USC had a 50% acceptance rate and the BOT contemplated moving the campus. Everyone with a USC degree owes the jump in prestige of that sheepskin to the Nikias regime.

    Like

    1. Nobody owes anything to Nikias. The sooner you acknowledge the tremendous damage he has inflicted to USC, the sooner you will acknowledge that he, Haden, Swann and the current Board of Trustees have no place in the administration of the university. How I wish Steve Sample was around to run the place. He’s rolling over in his grave right now. Please stop being an apologist for Nikias and the Athletic Department.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The jump in prestige is owed to Steven Sample who jump started USC’s academic rise.

      Max Nikias is renowned as a fund raiser. He had no hand in charting USC’s academics to push it higher than it had ever been.

      One incident that illustrates this is Nikias and the med school dean and gynecologist scandals. The faculty let it be known they had no faith in Nikias at all after that. They demanded his resignation with more than one letter last summer. USC faculty knew they didn’t need Max to continue USC’s academic rise because they knew he wasn’t responsible for it in the first place. He came in long after USC started its climb in prestige.

      Nikias’ final legacy at USC will be a tarnished one. You can’t rewrite his history at USC to make him better than he actually was. Nikias will be known as a disappointment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. MG – I have a great Chuck Jones original cell hanging on my wall – Bugs with the seething bull in the background as he asks “which way to Albuquerque?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Greatest Chuck Jones come back of all time:
      Chuck Jones: It still kills me to think that Warner Brothers burned all our old animation drawings —that stuff could have been given out to kids on the sidewalk.
      Dick Cavett: What’s the big deal? Its not exactly the burning of the Library at Alexandria….
      Chuck Jones: No…..It’s worse.
      P.S
      Sounds like a really cool cel! Hang on to it!

      Like

      1. When does football chit chat resume?

        #YouWantToFixSC,PutALeaderAboardBOT.
        #BehaveAsThoughMomIsLookingOverYourShoulder
        #NothingPersonal
        #ThisThreadCouldGetTo100

        Like

  16. Get this. KFI reporting Lori Laughlin’s $250,000 daughter was on Rick Caruso’s yacht in the Bahamas for spring break when scandal broke.

    #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp

    Like

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