Damn new details about a pattern of worrying behavior from former USC athletic director Mike Bohn have come to light after his The athletic with first-hand accounts and supporting documents.on May 21. Bohn, who arrived at USC four years ago after a five-year stint in Cincinnati, created a “toxic” work environment at his former employer, according to a comprehensive report from
Just ten days before Bohn was inducted as the AD at USC on Oct. 29, 2019, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access Office of Gender, Equity & Inclusion launched two separate investigations into his leadership, according to the report. The first described a series of racially insensitive comments from Bohn, who allegedly “made disrespectful comments about [Cincinnati] President [Neville G.] Pinto’s race” and whose “repeated, racially charged, disrespectful remarks caused distress”.
In one example, Bohn allegedly told UC executive senior associate AD Karen Hatcher, who is black, to “be careful with diverse pools” when it came to hiring:
In another instance, when Hatcher complained about the lack of promotion for minorities, Bohn told Stephen Rosfeld, a white male associate and vice president of development for the college foundation, that Hatcher “pulled the race card.” Bohn told Omar Banks, a black man and former CFO at Cincinnati, that Hatcher was “successful in athletics only because she is an African-American woman” and challenged her knowledge of the position, the document said.
A second investigation, opened at the same time, focused on “an administrative assessment … to access (sic) the climate and culture of the athletic department as a whole.” From The Athletic:
As part of the review, several athletic staff described climate and culture as having “a toxic atmosphere,” including a perception that the department was not following university policies “regarding hiring decisions and internal promotions.” The review also stated that several staffers “explained that there is an ‘in crowd’ and that if you’re not in the ‘in crowd’ you don’t get leadership development to acquire new skills to qualify for promotions.” Staffers also described what they said was “a lack of diversity in senior leadership positions and no minority recruitment for those positions.”
Cincinnati acknowledged that Bohn had committed a potential policy violation, but recommended no action, as he had already left for USC at the time.
Bohn’s attitude toward female employees then became a particular concern at USC, according to two sources who spoke with the Los Angeles Times around his retirement. They noted that Bohn made inappropriate comments about the appearance of female employees on staff, including their weight, clothing and hair. The Times also reports that Bohn consistently missed important meetings and events.
Although Bohn stepped down due to health concerns, several former or current USC employees recently raised concerns about Bohn’s management during a recent top-to-bottom review of the athletic department conducted by an outside firm, according to The Times. USC hired Gina Maistro Smith, a Philadelphia-based attorney for Cozen O’Connor, to conduct that assessment.
“In our unique pursuit of excellence, I am committed to ensuring that we have the right leadership to achieve our goals,” USC President Carol L. Folt. “As part of that commitment and as we prepare to move to the Big Ten, we have made a major overhaul of the athletics department, including its operations, culture and strategy. After building strong foundations over the past few years, now is the time for a new direction based on our values and expertise needed to fulfill our ambitious vision for Trojan athletics.”
Prior to taking the AD job at Cincinnati, he served as athletic director at Colorado from 2005-13, overseeing the Buffaloes’ transition from the Big 12 to the Pac-12. Bohn also had stops as an AD at Idaho (1998-2003) and San Diego State (2003-05).