Mike Bohn, the former athletic director at the University of Cincinnati, has been hired as USC’s athletic director. After weeks of speculation, President Carol Folt made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday.
“[Bohn] is known for his integrity, his competitiveness, his passion and for always placing students at the center of his work,” Folt said.
In his first appearance in front of the media at the helm of USC athletics, Bohn gave a high energy speech about his passion for USC.
“I want to make sure that Trojans understand that I have tremendous respect for traditions, the history and the success that USC athletics stands for,” Bohn said. “As a competitor, that’s why I want to be here.”
He sees engaging the student body as a critical point of the university’s ability to succeed.
“I am really bummed the band couldn’t be here today. The band, spirit squad and students help us win games,” Bohn said. “They help us recruit great students, so I think it is imperative for me to help instill that sense of intensity of interest from our students. It is a critical formula to help give us an opportunity to be competitive.”
Bohn concluded the press conference with a resounding “fight on to victory.”
Bohn boasts a track record of success in his tenure. He played a monumental role in Colorado’s switch from the Big-12 conference to the Pac-12 in 2011. In 2017, Bohn brought on Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell as Cincinnati’s head coach. Since then, the Bearcats football team has gone from 4-8 to the top team in its conference, currently ranked at No. 17.
His ability to make sound decisions and strategic hires may bode well for a USC program looking to restore its dominance and image.
“Together we will build comprehensive excellence — all 21 teams,” Bohn said. “We want to be the best at every single thing that we do.”
Bohn’s hiring comes less than a year after the college admissions scandal — which rocked USC in March under former athletic director Lynn Swann’s leadership and resulted in the federal indictment of a top department official. Swann also oversaw the department during the federal probe into college basketball in 2017-18, which resulted in the indictment of former assistant coach Tony Bland.
“It starts with playing by the rules, doing the right thing,” Bohn said. “When you are supporting your student athletes and you’re doing things to help them be successful, you know you are doing the right things.”
Bohn’s entry to the university comes nearly two months after Swann, who served in the position for three years, announced his resignation.
Unlike USC’s three most recent athletic directors — Swann, Pat Haden and Mike Garrett, who all played football for the Trojans — Bohn has no ties to the university and has considerable experience as an athletic director. He brings more than 20 years of experience at the position from four different institutions: Idaho (1998-2003), San Diego State (2003-05), Colorado (2005-13) and Cincinnati (2014-19).
“It’s about bringing a new fresh perspective and maybe something else that has an opportunity to put it together,” Bohn said. “I didn’t attend the Air Force Academy. I didn’t attend any of the other institutions that I worked at, but I think that’s actually a little bit of an advantage.”
There have been concerns about the status of USC football head coach Clay Helton’s job, even prior to the announcement. Fans and boosters have been outspoken about their desire for a new leader at the helm of USC football.
“We all understand the importance of football,” Bohn said. “It would be premature to talk about coaches or any situation when I just arrived and am in the process of learning and listening. I have a good sense of really quickly being able to connect and find out how we are doing and where we are going.”