Mike Bohn is out as USC athletic director and the accompanying dirty laundry isn’t just coming from USC.
The longtime administrator’s previous tenure as athletic director at the University of Cincinnati ended with a pair of still-active investigations against him by the Office of Equal Opportunity and the Office of Admissions for Gender, Equality and Inclusion. according to athletic,
The investigation was reportedly launched on October 29, 2019, three days before Bohan’s hire at USC was first reported and five years after he was hired following a stint at Colorado.
Multiple employees reportedly complained about Mike Bohn in Cincinnati
The first came from a formal complaint made by executive senior associate athletic director Karen Hatcher, who allegedly accused Bohan of “discriminatory and other professional misconduct”. Hatcher reportedly claimed that Bonn told her to “beware of the diverse pool” when hiring her for a development position and that she was fired by another executive after complaining about the lack of promotions for minority employees. “Pulled the race card” during the conversation with .
Hatcher also allegedly claimed that Bonn told former Cincinnati CFO Omar Banks that she was “successful in athletics only because she is an African American woman.” Banks also reportedly told investigators that Bohan made her feel “devalued” before leaving in early 2017.
The investigation reportedly ended six months later with a memo saying it had found evidence of violations of university policy, but had little reason to proceed further:
“While the allegations may constitute evidence of a violation of University policy, (Bonn) has had no opportunity to respond since the OEOA had an opportunity to address the concerns with him.”
The second investigation reportedly reviewed “the climate and culture of the athletics department as a whole”, and found athletic staff in what they described as a “toxic environment” with a “crowd” that saw easy publicity. Employees also reportedly complained about a “lack of diversity in senior leadership positions and the lack of recruitment of minorities to those positions”.
That investigation also reportedly found “substantial evidence” of violations.
The findings of both investigations came after Bonn’s hire at USC, but The Athletic Report contained a notice letter that would be available through the Freedom of Information Act before his departure. Former Cincinnati associate athletic director Kim McGraw reportedly complained to the Title IX coordinator about a pay disparity between her and two male colleagues.
McGraw spoke to the Los Angeles Times After Bonn’s eviction and also claimed that she saw him making unwanted physical contact with women, including shrugging their shoulders and putting his arm around them.
More about Mike Bonne’s time at USC
While the investigation in Cincinnati painted a troubling picture, given that Bohn was given the power to run again at USC, there were clearly murmurs about his management in Los Angeles as well.
The Athletic reports that Bon was known to spend much of his time in his hometown of Boulder during his time with Cincinnati and worked remotely from there “the better part of his first two years on the job at USC, and sporadically still over the next 18 months.”
This, as you can imagine, was apparently a problem when it came to establishing relationships with the USC athletic staff. Former USC football captain and popular Los Angeles radio host Petros Papadakis told a very illustrative story:
Papadakis had a memorable first meeting with Bohan while he was working the USC-Cal game as an analyst for Fox Sports a few weeks after Bohan took the job in 2019. Papadakis was talking to former teammates Kerry Colbert and Lenny. Vandermade.
“Bone came over and introduced himself,” Papadakis said. “I said, ‘You know Keery and Lenny,’ and he shook his hand and said, ‘I want you to be around the alumni event.’
Papadakis replied, “They’re on your staff,” pointing out that both were currently assistant coaches for the Trojans. “I introduced him to the people he was with on the plane. He rolled his eyes at me.
Bonn’s tenure as athletic director saw a notable victory, the hire of football coach Lincoln Riley, who brought the previous year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams with him to Oklahoma. However, her tenure also saw the departures of championship-winning coaches Caryl Smith-Gilbert (track) and Keidane McAlpine (women’s soccer).
And now, his exit means USC is in a familiar state of administrative chaos, even though it has the headwinds of Williams and the additions of Isaiah Collier, Judea Watkins and Bronnie James. It can only hope that its next hire is better than Bohan, or Lynn Swann, or Pat Haden.