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USC Stands Behind Its Athletic Director Lynn Swann Despite Charges Against Those Under Him

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KDKA) - He's long been regarded as one of Pittsburgh's greatest athletes, but now Lynn Swann is caught up in the college admissions scandal as the athletic director at the University of Southern California.

"It was pretty clear from day one that this was a bad decision by USC to hire somebody who has no experience as an athletic administrator," says Paul Zeise, who covers college sports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

While nobody has accused Swann of doing anything illegal, USC sports under his watch was implicated in the fraudulent scheme to admit high school students as athletes when they had no athletic qualifications.

Swann's senior associate athletic director, Donna Heinel, is accused of accepting $1.3 million in bribes, while Jovan Vavic, the water polo coach, is accused of taking a $250,000 in bribes.

A number of sports at USC are implicated.

The fake high school athletes admitted to USC include a football kicker who had never kicked a football, a long-snapper who had never played in high school, and a six-foot-one basketball player who was really five-foot-five.

Zeise says Swann was in over his head at USC.

Paul Zeise Jon Delano
KDKA's Jon Delano interviews the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Paul Zeise. Photo Credit: (KDKA)

"College athletics has changed completely, and hiring somebody with a big name to be your athletic director if he doesn't know what he's doing is just stupid," Zeise told KDKA's Jon Delano on Thursday.

KDKA reached out to Swann and USC for comment and received a copy of the USC's interim president's letter to the community.

"We have no reason to believe that admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing, and we believe the government concurs in that assessment," wrote Wanda M. Austin, the interim president.

"The government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim."

But Zeise predicts Swann's days are numbered.

"They're caught up in this thing with people basically buying fake profiles for their kids to be athletes so they can get into these schools. I think there've been five USC administrators that have been indicted in the FBI. If that doesn't get your fired and they're under your watch, I'm not sure what will."

Zeise says USC will ease Swann out with words like these.

"'You're an all-time great. We don't want to embarrass you by flat out firing you, but it's over.'"

"I can't imagine that this isn't the end," says Zeise.

But as of now, USC is standing behind its athletic director.

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