Buried in the letter released this morning by USC president-elect C.L. Max Nikias announcing the hiring of new athletic director Pat Haden was a fairly important nugget of information: another hiring, this one of new vice president of athletic compliance David M. Roberts.
Nikias did play up the hiring some in his four-page letter, saying that Roberts' position is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation and adding that he will be a "welcome addition" to the USC administration. From a high-profile lawyer who also has a football background -- having played at UC Davis in the early 1970s -- Roberts' hiring means that Nikias didn't simply desire changes at the athletic director spot but rather across the athletic department in general.
That's evidenced by the promotion of Ellen Ferris to associate vice president for athletic compliance.
Roberts will put a name -- and a big one -- to the typically no-name compliance positions. Nikias also notes in the letter that Roberts will sit in on Haden's weekly cabinet meetings with other athletic department officials while crediting Roberts' résumé.
A couple of other notes from the letter: Nikias writes that the Freeh Group retained by USC to oversee compliance issues last month will compile a report by the end of September and provide recommendations to enhance USC's athletic environment operations.
Headed by ex-FBI director Louis J. Freeh, the group will include two former school officials who worked with prominent athletic programs in David Roselle and Amy Chisholm and a former bank legal executive, Omar McNeill.
Roselle was the president of Kentucky when the school faced controversy for its basketball program in 1988; Chisholm is a former assistant athletic director for compliance at Georgia. It appears USC is hoping that the Freeh Group will pack a punch in its quest to make its compliance office "one of the preeminent compliance teams in the nation."
And, according to Nikias, nine people will work in compliance for the Trojans by the end of September. Compare that to the one worker former coach Pete Carroll said happened at times during his tenure, and it's obvious that USC's athletic department has changed -- for the better, they hope.