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Getting To Know USC Athletic Director Pat Haden

Kyle Jacobsen |
October 13, 2010 | 3:41 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Pat Haden, named new face of the USC Athletic Department this past July, has accomplished a lot in his lifetime. After quarterbacking the USC football team as an undergrad from 1972-74, Haden went on to play in the NFL, study at the prestigious Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and ultimately partner a private equity firm for over two decades. He also has a law degree and a mini-career as a sportscaster for NBC under his belt. Based on his resume alone, Haden is a hero in the sports community, and on paper, he is a wise choice to replace former AD Mike Garrett, who left the university after 17 years of service amid harsh sanctions by the NCAA. All accolades aside, however, I wanted to learn more about the man who the university chose to lead the Trojans during a very public crisis.

What are your main responsibilities as athletic director?

To run an organization, to balance an $80 million budget, to make sure the athletes and staff have a positive experience here at USC and that they have the opportunity to grow and further their careers, and to make sure that everyone has fun doing it.

How were you selected for this position?
President Max Nikias called me in early July and asked me if I was interested in the job, and I really wasn’t at that time. I was a general partner in a private equity fund, and I was pretty happy doing what I was doing. He asked a second time, and I spoke with my wife, and we thought it would be a great, new challenge for me. So it was really my wife who initiated me to meet with Nikias and ultimately I agreed to take the job.

What do you hope to change from last year’s administration?
The big goals are: to have our student athletes have a more real college experience. And what I mean by that is: these athletes’ time gets so sucked up in their sports that they don’t have a real college experience. So I would like them to have the chance to go to a Visions and Voices event or experience a student play.

I’ve noticed that you have been very active with the other sports teams. I’ve seen you at women’s soccer games and playing tennis with the women’s team. Is this a conscious decision?
Yeah, it’s a fun part of the job. But I want to get to know the teams and coaches. I want them to know that I value them and their experience at USC. Also, the women’s sports are so good here, and they are just a joy to watch.

What haven’t you accomplished? What do you still want to accomplish in your lifetime?

I would still like to teach—probably high school—and coach high school sports. Although I have been appointed to faculty at the Marshall Business School and the Annenberg School for Communication, and I’ll probably teach something there, I would also really like to teach high school and maybe coach women’s softball or something. I also enjoy writing and would like to spend time writing in the future.

You’ve never had any interest in medicine?
No. It’s too late. I think the train’s already left on that one. Let’s see, I’m 57 now, so after I get my degree, I’d be 67. At this stage in my life, I don’t really think I have time for that. I never really had a plan. I was just happily going through my life. I didn’t really control anything. I happened to play football and other events just happened, and here I am.

Out of all your careers, what has been your favorite?
I think I am going to enjoy this job the most. It’ll be the most challenging but also the most fun. We’ll see though, I’ve only been doing this job for two-and-a-half months. 

What do you do in your spare time? I hear you are a member of the San Gabriel Country Club.
Yeah, I play golf. I like spending a lot of time with my children and grandchildren. My wife and I love to travel, mostly in California. We don’t get on a plane and go to Europe. We like to just go to Montecito and hang out. I love it there. And I love to read.

To reach reporter Kyle Jacobsen, click here.

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