University of Southern California athletic director Mike Boone resigned Friday afternoon, the school announced.

Boon cited “continuing health challenges.” A statement to the Los Angeles Times And he told the newspaper that it was the right time to leave the place. However, the Los Angeles Times reported that his resignation came a day after the newspaper asked about “internal criticism of the leadership of the athletic department.”

Shortly after Bohn’s resignation was announced, the Los Angeles Times reported that USC hired an outside law firm to investigate the athletic department’s workplace culture earlier this year, when employees raised concerns about Bohn.

“USC’s athletic department has transformed into a national powerhouse” over the past four years, President Carol Folt said in an open letter to USC alumni and the school.

“I am committed to ensuring that we have the right leadership to achieve our goal of single-minded excellence,” she said. “As part of that commitment and as we prepare to transition into the Big Ten, we have conducted a thorough review of the athletic department, including its work, culture and strategy. Having built a strong foundation over the past few years, it is time to provide a new direction based on our values ​​and knowledge to achieve our ambitions for Trojan athletics.”

In the year Boone, who was hired by USC from Cincinnati in November 2019, oversaw major changes in his 3 1/2 years in the Trojans’ athletic department, most notably hiring Lincoln Riley as football coach in 2021 and helping coordinate USC’s move. The transition to the Big Ten was announced in 2022 and will officially take place in 2024.

But there has been ongoing tension between Boone and the university’s academic leadership, according to people who spent time at USC and are familiar with the inner workings of the school and its athletic program.

Boon’s decision to leave is not entirely unexpected, based on discussions with industry sources and Boon in recent months, but the timing and nature of the decision and announcement is shocking. Speculation among those sources was that Boone could leave the position before the official transition to the Big Ten next year. It’s worth noting that much of this talk came from Brandon Sosna β€” USC’s former chief of staff and Boone’s right-hand man during several collegiate stops β€” when the Trojans took a leading role against the Detroit Lions last summer.

Was the timing of Boone’s resignation a surprise?

Friday’s news shocked Boon’s peers in the industry. Three Big Ten sources said The athletics It was unusual for him to be absent from Rosemont, Ill., earlier this week for league meetings, each noted independently.

The Trojans are less than 14 months away from moving to the Big Ten, which makes the timing of such a decision all the more surprising. From logistical challenges to travel issues, USC has a lot to do to prepare for the move.

New Big Ten Commissioner Tony Pettitte has reiterated that a seamless merger of USC and UCLA with the league in the summer of 2024 is his top priority right now. Those schools and league offices have been meeting to work on all the related issues over the past few months. – Aurbach

Bon background

Bohn left for USC in the fall of 2019 after six years at Cincinnati and nearly nine before that at Colorado. In the year He got his first job as athletic director at Idaho in 1998, and spent two years as AD at San Diego State before moving to Boulder, where he oversaw the university’s transition from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 in 2011.

In Cincinnati, Bohn hired Luke Fickell in 2016, who went on to lead the Bearcats to a four-team College Football Playoff appearance in 2021 and helped Cincinnati reach the Big 12 this summer, though both occurred after Bohn left for USC. Boone also hired John Brannon as Cincinnati men’s basketball coach in April 2019. Two years later, Brannon was fired as a result of a university investigation, which occurred after Bohn left for USC.

Boone was born in Illinois but grew up in Boulder. He played football and baseball at the University of Kansas in the early 1980s. He served as a graduate assistant on the football coaching staff at Ohio University in 1984 before beginning his administrative career at Air Force One. – Williams

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(Photo: Brian Rothmuller / Getty Images)

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