“To his new role, Lynn Swann will bring the heart and soul of a Trojan,” Nikias said in a letter to the university community.
Swann, a graceful college and pro Hall of Fame receiver, offered a resume that included many of the same characteristics as Haden.
Garrett, a Heisman Trophy winner as a Trojans running back, was an associate athletic director at his alma mater before he succeeded Mike McGee, the only USC athletic director with no previous ties to the school.
The longshot view was that Nikias might bring in an experienced athletic director, a person with a track record of navigating the inner workings of a Power Five conference school.
Haden’s mission was to steer USC through the aftermath of some of the most severe sanctions in NCAA history.
Haden inherited Lane Kiffin as football coach, ultimately fired him in 2013 at L.A. International Airport, hired and subsequently fired Steve Sarkisian, and last December installed Clay Helton as the new coach after Helton stepped in for Sarkisian and led the Trojans to the Pac-12 Conference South title.
Haden’s tenure was marked by increased athletic department revenues and completion of the $70-million McKay Center, the renovation of Heritage Hall and a refurbished swim stadium.
That’s w Haden and Swann played together as USC teammates during the 1972 and 1973 seasons.
In some quarters, the Trojans went from being regarded as the evil empire to a sympathetic program because of what is now viewed as unfair treatment from the NCAA.