Bribes and Big-Time Sports: U.S.C. Finds Itself, Once Again, Facing Scandal – The New York Times
The university moved swiftly to recover. Mr. Nikias succeeded Steven B. Sample as president that same year and began building the school into a fund-raising powerhouse. For the last several years, it has been one of the top universities in annual fund-raising, along with Harvard and Stanford, raising $6 billion in a recent campaign.
Mr. Nikias used the N.C.A.A. sanctions as the impetus to clean house — firing the athletic director, Mike Garrett, himself a former Heisman Trophy winner. Mr. Nikias also beefed up the rules compliance office, hiring a prominent Los Angeles lawyer, and soon had a nine-person staff.
“We’re going to have a culture of compliance,” Pat Haden, the replacement U.S.C. athletic director, told The New York Times at the time. “We’re going to think about it in the morning, think about it before we go to bed. We’re going to have issues but we’ll fess up and be better than the way before.”
As part of the restructuring, one administrator was soon thrust into a more prominent role — Ms. Heinel, a former college swimmer.
Ms. Heinel now stands accused of collecting more than $1.3 million in payments directed from parents through Mr. Singer between 2014 and 2018, and drawing $20,000 per month from Mr. Singer since last July through a sham consultant agreement.
Ms. Heinel, who came to U.S.C. in 2003, was fired Tuesday along with Jovan Vavic, the hugely successful water polo coach who was charged in the current affidavit with accepting $250,000 from Mr. Singer. Two former U.S.C. soccer coaches — Ali Khosroshahin and his assistant, Laura Janke — have been charged with taking $350,000 from Mr. Singer. So, too, has Bill Ferguson, the Wake Forest women’s volleyball coach, who led the men’s team at U.S.C. for a decade before leaving in 2016. He is accused of accepting $100,000 from Mr. Singer.
The recent scandals haven’t appeared to dim the university’s powerful lure for prospective students. This year, U.S.C. received close to 66,000 applicants, its largest pool ever, with the highest collective grade point averages and SAT scores ever recorded.