LOS ANGELES - Lynn Swann is the next Southern California football great to get the chance to run the Trojans’ athletic department.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer was named USC’s athletic director on Wednesday.
USC President Max Nikias announced the appointment of the former Trojans receiver, who will succeed Pat Haden on July 1.
Swann was among more than 200 candidates considered for the position atop the high-profile department, Nikias said. Although the Pro Football Hall of Famer has no experience in collegiate athletic administration, Swann is the third straight former USC football player to get the post.
“This new role as AD fits with my life focus of leadership, mentoring young people, helping others and giving them the tools they need to grow and achieve,” Swann said in a statement.
The 64-year-old Swann returns to the school where he played on two Rose Bowl teams and won a national championship in 1972 while earning a degree in public relations.
“To his new role, Lynn Swann will bring the heart and soul of a Trojan,” Nikias said. “He shares our profound dedication to combining academic excellence with athletic excellence.”
Swann became an NFL star with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning four championships and the 1976 Super Bowl MVP award during a nine-year career. He joined the Hall of Fame in 2001.
Swann went on to a lengthy broadcasting career, and he served as the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 2002-05. He has also served on the boards of several large corporations, but USC said he will drop most of those commitments in the next few months after Haden drew criticism for his extensive outside corporate interests.
Swann ran for governor in Pennsylvania in 2006 as the Republican candidate, losing to incumbent Ed Rendell.
“USC opened doors for me,” Swann said. “I learned about myself, and my education created a pathway to go forward. I was always looking toward preparing for that career beyond football.”
Haden resigned earlier this year after a series of minor health scares, ending a 5 1/2-year tenure that included the successful navigation of heavy NCAA sanctions against the school stemming from the tenure of former coach Pete Carroll and running back Reggie Bush.
While USC football is still a consistent winner, it hasn’t returned to its best days under Carroll, struggling through multiple coaching changes and failing to win a Pac-12 title since 2008.
Carroll hailed Swann’s hire on his Twitter account.
“He will be an outstanding leader and great champion for the Trojan cause!” the Seattle Seahawks coach wrote.
At least Swann doesn’t have to handle an immediate crisis in the football program. Haden fired football coach Steve Sarkisian last October and eventually promoted longtime assistant Clay Helton to the full-time job.
Outside of the dominant football program, the school’s athletic department won 10 national titles during Haden’s tenure, second only to Florida in that span. Men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield has revived the USC program since Haden surprisingly hired him, culminating in an NCAA Tournament bid this year and a contract extension through 2021.
Haden, the former USC quarterback, replaced Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett as athletic director. Haden will stay at the school for another year to guide the renovations of the Coliseum.
Born in Tennessee, Swann graduated from the Bay Area’s Junipero Serra High School, the same school that produced fellow Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and home run king Barry Bonds.
Swann’s son, Braxton, will attend USC as a freshman this fall, the school said.