USC athletic director Mike Bohn suddenly resigned Friday, effective immediately. Bohn has helped lead a turnaround for the Trojans over the past four years, hiring head football coach Lincoln Riley and negotiating the program’s transition from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten starting July 1, 2024.
While Bohn cited health concerns as part of his departure, multiple 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 Los Angeles Times.
Bohn’s attitude toward female employees was a particular concern, according to two sources who spoke to the Times. 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.
The Trojans 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 in place to achieve our goals,” USC President Carol L. Folt said in a statement Friday. As part of that commitment and as we prepare for the move to the Big Ten, we’ve taken a thorough review of the Athletics Department, including its operations, culture and strategy. After building a strong foundation in recent years, it is now time for a new direction, based on our values and expertise needed to deliver on our ambitious vision for Trojan athletics.”
Bohn is leaving the USC job after previously leaving the same position at Cincinnati to take the job out west. His ability to poach Riley, Oklahoma’s highly regarded coach, allowed him to make his mark in the athletic department. He was also instrumental in USC and close rival UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, a move that will come to fruition in about 13 months.
“To move forward, it is now important that I focus on being present with my precious family, addressing ongoing health challenges and thinking about how I can make an impact in the future,” Bohn wrote as part of a statement to the Times.
The departure of Bohn, an athletic director at five different institutions over the past 25 years, leaves USC with an important administrative vacancy as it prepares for a difficult transition to the Big Ten.
“On behalf of the Trojan Family, I thank Mike for his contributions to our athletic department during a time of rapid transformation and growth,” said Folt. “We will announce a transition team consisting of both internal and external leaders in the coming days and will soon begin a national search for a new athletics director.”
Bohn served as athletic director at Colorado from 2005 to 2013, overseeing the Buffalo’s transition from the Big 12 to the Pac-12. While he did not negotiate Cincinnati’s move from the AAC to the Big 12, he did help set a standard of success for the Bearcats’ athletic department by hiring football coach Luke Fickell. Other stops for Bohn include Idaho and San Diego State. Before becoming an administrator, he played college football and baseball in Kansas.
Below is Bohn’s full statement to the Times:
“After more than 40 years leading college athletics, now is the right time to step down from my position as director of athletics at the University of Southern California. I have dedicated my life to serving student- athletes and advancing the venture of intercollegiate athletics.”I will always be proud to have led the program from the most tumultuous times in the history of the profession and at USC with a restored reputation and national milestones. I led the process of entering the Big 10 Conference, hiring head coaches, achieving the highest graduation rate in school history, and winning numerous national and conference championships. As a former student-athlete, my purpose and identity are rooted in supporting young people in pursuit of their athletic, academic and personal goals. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had so many great opportunities and met so many wonderful people, and I leave wishing the very best to everyone I’ve worked and served with. To move forward, it is now important for me to focus on being present with my precious family, addressing ongoing health challenges, and thinking about how I can make an impact in the future.