University of Southern California athletic director Lynn Swann is facing calls to step down in the wake of a college admissions bribery scandal that has ensnared several people from his department, as well as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Swann said he first learned of the bribery problems on Friday from an early morning phone call. The administrator on the line told him that senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel had been taken into custody in connection with the case, which alleges various racketeering and bribery charges in connection with attempts to get various students into select colleges, including USC.
Some of the students were allegedly presented as athletic recruits in various Olympic sports. Among the teams used in the scandal were USC’s men’s and women’s water polo. Coach Jovan Vavic, who allegedly received $250,000 in bribes as part of the plots, was arrested in Honolulu and has since been fired by USC, along with Heinel.
“I think everybody was blindsided by this,” Swann said to the LA Times. “The fact that it was a senior member of the staff and also our men’s and women’s head water polo coach. … These are people that have been here a long time and people who had been here during difficult times and had seen bad things done and knew better. Everyone was completely shocked, caught off guard and taken by surprise.”
Swann became athletic director three years ago. The calls to step down come for his lack of institutional control over his department.
“The reason why no one would know that this was happening is because we had one person in charge of submitting the academic records to our admissions department,” Swann claimed. “And that one person was in charge of getting that information back and distributing it to the coaches and letting other people know. So when there’s trust that this one person is doing the right thing, which Donna had been doing for years, there’s not a problem. … So a coach could give her a list of five names and she could add a sixth name, give it to admissions, have it go through, admissions gives it back to her, she gives it back to the coach with only the five names that the coach gave her. The coach doesn’t know, no one knows, except for the person who added the extra name.”
Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli have been accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to help their daughters get into USC.
Swann said he was not considering resigning.