Pat Haden addresses USC family on first day of the job
To The Trojan Family:
First let me just say, I love USC. This university is like home to me.
I am a graduate of the University; I met my wife of 34 years here; my best friends to this day were classmates; our sons went to USC; and I happily served on the Board of Trustees for 19 years. USC, without a doubt, is one of the finest academic institutions in the country and has an athletic heritage like no other. I can think of no better place to enjoy life, learn, AND compete.
Mike Garrett was a sensational athletic director. His 17-year body of work was about as good as it gets. His combination of supporting an infrastructure that was as successful at winning as it was at fundraising is unprecedented. More importantly, he led a program that cared about its student-athletes in a most fundamental way. Appropriately, the bar has been set high.
On my first day as your athletic director, I wanted to share some early thoughts about our athletic department, our values, our athletes and our future. I am blessed to be reporting to President Max Nikias. Max has been at USC for 19 years and embraces collegiate athletics. He and his wife, Niki, love to attend our games. He is very supportive of all of us in Heritage Hall. Before President Nikias offered me this position, we spoke at length about “success”-what it means to us as professionals and how we plan to achieve it as Trojans. One challenge we discussed was how we will redefine success in light of the NCAA sanctions that are upon us today. We agreed to define our success over the near term the following ways:
1. To compete passionately, win, and do it with integrity.
2. To create a more robust culture of compliance without dampening the competitive spirit of our programs.
3. To not only support the programs most of us think about (football, basketball, baseball), but to build on all programs and, in particular, to build on our women’s athletic programs and their success.
4. To continue to drive improvement in our graduation rates and the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
5. To find a way to allow our athletes to experience the entire university experience, not just the athletic experience.
6. To balance our budget every year and build on Mike Garrett’s highly successful fundraising program.
We seek to win Pac-10 and national championships. That is our tradition and heritage. We will compete in an ethical way and with the integrity each of us attempts to live.
We will not win every game in every sport in every year. But we will create an environment where student-athletes work as hard as they can to win each game and, along the way, to learn the life lessons of preparation, teamwork, dedication and stick-to-it-ive-ness that athletic competition can teach us so very well.
During the period of our NCAA probation we won’t wake up each morning with a “woe is me” attitude as a result of the sanctions. I have failed if I cannot create a positive, upbeat environment that cultivates success in spite of the sanctions. We will demonstrate not only the physical strength that it takes to win on the football field, the baseball diamond and the basketball court, but the strength of character that it takes to succeed against the significant challenge now before us. Our football program creates high expectations from all who follow us. We will have challenges in the years ahead, but we will continue to strive to meet the expectations of Trojan Football fans by competing at the highest level every year. We are intent on the continued improvement of our basketball program, and on the return of our baseball program to national prominence.
And while football, basketball and baseball will always be very significant to our athletic department, we field 16 other teams as well. As your A.D., I have the obligation to all 640 of our student-athletes to make sure that their college experience is a full, complete, and robust one where they can compete vigorously and feel the joy and frustration that athletic competition can bring. I welcome this obligation.
We must have a culture of compliance at the beginning, middle and end of our definition of success. We plan to have the best, most proactive and robust compliance department in the country. I am not so naive as to expect we will not have compliance issues going forward. We will. But we will face them with honesty and a determination to do even better to prevent the next compliance issue. We must be vigilant 24/7 while allowing our athletes to enjoy being 18- to 21-year-olds on a college campus.
We have sensational athletes on our campus in virtually all of our sports. We are blessed to have fantastic female athletes and championship teams, and we will continue to develop and build upon our past success. I personally believe that Title IX, enacted in 1972, was one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of athletics. While Title IX has its detractors, and it has been implemented awkwardly at times, it has provided great new possibilities to our female athletes. Women of my mother’s generation had few of these opportunities; women of my daughters’ generation saw a whole new and inspiring world of athletic competition open to them. And I hope that we will play an important role in the even greater progress ahead for female athletes in the years to come. I believe that as a result of women competing at our great university, their careers will have more open doors because of the valuable lessons learned through a healthy dose of teamwork, and their lives-whatever road they choose to take-will be richer. Ultimately, it’s not just our female athletes who will benefit; I believe we are all the beneficiaries.
Our University is a most amazing place. There is one-of-a-kind research being conducted in labs all over the campus; there is new knowledge being discovered in every department, library, classroom and living space; we produce over 30 plays a year; have some of the best musicians in the world who perform on our campus regularly; and have speeches, debates, literature readings and dozens of other opportunities to enrich our students’ lives.
I would like for our student-athletes to have a more complete college experience; a more real collegiate experience. I do not believe having winning programs and athletes interested in all a university has to offer are mutually exclusive. These should be four or five of the most wondrous years in their lives. I know that our world-class athletes must spend a lot of time training, but is it all worth it 20 years from now when they realize they spent most of their time on the right-hand side of the hyphen in the phrase “student-athlete” and missed the opportunity to experience so much more that was available to them?
We must have fiscal responsibility and accountability. We have a large and demanding budget and challenging economic times, so we must redouble our fundraising efforts to meet the demands of our department – student-athlete scholarships, facilities and salaries for our administrators and staff. We must balance our budget each and every year. I need your help in identifying our donor prospects, and we need your continued support.
One can define “success” in many ways. These are some of my early thoughts. I hope to share more with you as I spend more time with our talented coaches, athletic administrators and athletes. I welcome the job and its challenges. I will do my absolute best to represent you and the university we all love so much in the way it deserves. I will make mistakes, and I will make decisions with which you will disagree. I will fess up to my mistakes, explain my decisions, and work as hard and as smart as I can to make all of us proud of USC.
As I said in the beginning of this correspondence, I love USC.
Patrick C. Haden
USC Director of Athletics
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