USC athletic director Mike Bohn abruptly resigns

Bohn hired Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma and oversaw USC's departure to the Big Ten

USC will have a new athletic director as it transitions to the Big Ten.

Mike Bohn resigned Friday from his position as athletic director, university president Carol Folt announced. Bohn oversaw USC’s decision to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten and hired Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma as football head coach during his four years at USC. He is also credited with modernizing the USC athletic department as a whole.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bohn's resignation comes amid a review of the school's athletic department, including "criticism of [Bohn's] management." Per the Times, "four current and former USC employees said that staffers inside the athletic department had raised concerns about Bohn" to the outside law firm overseeing the review, particularly over comments he made to women working in the department.

From the Times' report:

Bohn made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female colleagues, including remarks about their dress, hair and weight, that staff members said made them feel uncomfortable, according to two USC sources with knowledge of the incidents. They spoke on condition of anonymity fearing retaliation. They said Bohn’s comments left colleagues — especially women — feeling awkward.

Three USC sources said several people confronted Bohn about comments they felt were inappropriate, but they continued.

Bohn, 62, cited health reasons and wanting to spend time with his family in a statement to the Times. His resignation is effective immediately.

“I have been fortunate to have had so many wonderful opportunities and met so many terrific people, and I depart wishing the very best to all with whom I worked and served. In moving on, it is important now that I focus on being present with my treasured family, addressing ongoing health challenges and reflecting on how I can be impactful in the future,” Bohn’s statement said.

Athletic director Mike Bohn introduces Lincoln Riley as USC's new head football coach on Nov. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Athletic director Mike Bohn introduces Lincoln Riley as USC's new head football coach on Nov. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Bohn arrived at USC from Cincinnati in November 2019 and was tasked with overhauling a bumbling athletic department and revitalizing the struggling USC football program. He initially retained Clay Helton as head coach before firing him early in the 2021 season, opening the door for a head-start in the coaching search that ultimately yielded Riley in a major coup.

Later, Bohn played a key role in USC's moving on from the Pac-12 and joining the Big Ten. USC will play one more season in the Pac-12 before officially becoming a Big Ten member ahead of the 2024 season. With Bohn resigning, the school’s next athletic director will be in charge of overseeing that conference transition.

“After more than 40 years of college athletics leadership, it is the right time to step away from my position as Director of Athletics at the University of Southern California,” Bohn said. “I have dedicated my life to serving student-athletes and advancing the enterprise of intercollegiate athletics. I will always be proud of leading the program out of the most tumultuous times in the history of the profession and at USC with a restored reputation and national milestone accomplishments. I led the process to join the Big Ten Conference, hired marquee head coaches, produced the highest graduation rate in school history and won numerous national and conference championships.”

In a message to the university community, Folt said "a thorough review" of the athletic department was conducted, including looks into its "operations, culture, and strategy." Folt will put together a “transition team” as the school launches a national search for Bohn’s replacement.

“Over the last four years, the USC athletics department has transformed into a national powerhouse. In our singular pursuit of excellence, I am committed to ensuring we have the right leadership in place to achieve our goals,” Folt said. “As part of that commitment and as we prepare to move to the Big Ten, we conducted a thorough review of the athletics department, including its operations, culture, and strategy. Having built a strong foundation over the last few years, now is the time for a new direction grounded in our values and in expertise needed to fulfill our aspirational vision for Trojan athletics.”

Before his time at USC, Bohn served as the athletic director at Cincinnati, Colorado, San Diego State and Idaho.