Mike Bohn is out as USC athletic director and the accompanying dirty laundry isn’t coming from only USC.
The longtime administrator’s previous stint as athletic director at the University of Cincinnati ended with a pair of investigation still active against him by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access Office of Gender, Equity & Inclusion, according to The Athletic.
The investigations were reportedly opened on Oct. 29, 2019, three days before Bohn’s hire at USC was first reported to be in the works and five years after he was hired following a stint at Colorado.
Several staffers reportedly complained about Mike Bohn at Cincinnati
The first came from a formalized complaint made by executive senior associate athletic director Karen Hatcher, who reportedly accused Bohn of “discriminatory and other professional misconduct.” Hatcher reportedly claimed Bohn had told her “I’d be careful with the diverse pools” while hiring for a development position and said she “pulled the race card” during a conversation with another executive after she complained about a lack of promotion for minority employees.
Hatcher also reportedly claimed Bohn told former Cincinnati CFO Omar Banks that she was “only successful in athletics because she is an African American woman.” Banks also reportedly told investigators that Bohn made him feel “devalued” before he left in early 2017.
The investigation reportedly ended six months later with a memo stating it found evidence of university policy violations, but had little reason to proceed:
“While the allegations may have constituted evidence of a violation of university policy, there is no opportunity for (Bohn) to answer as he departed before there was an opportunity for OEOA to address the concerns with him.”
The second investigation reportedly conducted a review into “the climate and culture of the athletics department as a whole,” and found athletic staffers who described a “toxic atmosphere” with an “in crowd” that saw easier promotions. Staffers also reportedly complained about “a lack of diversity in senior leadership positions and no recruitment of minorities for those positions.”
That investigation also reportedly found “sufficient evidence” of a violation.
The findings of both investigations came after Bohn’s hire at USC, but The Athletic reports there was a notice letter that would have been available via the Freedom of Information Act before he left. Former Cincinnati associate athletic director Kim McGraw reportedly complained to a Title IX coordinator about a pay disparity between herself and two male colleagues.
McGraw spoke with the Los Angeles Times after Bohn’s ouster and also claimed she saw him make unwanted physical contact with women, including squeezing their shoulders and putting his arm around them.
More on Mike Bohn’s time at USC
While the investigations at Cincinnati painted a troubling picture given the power Bohn was given to wield at USC, there were apparently rumblings about his management in Los Angeles as well.
The Athletic reports that Bohn was known to spend much of his time at hometown in Boulder during his time with Cincinnati and worked remotely from there for “the better part of his first two years on the job at USC, and sporadically still over the ensuing 18 months.”
This, as you might imagine, was apparently a problem when it came to forging connections with USC athletic staff. Former USC football captain and popular Los Angeles radio host Petros Papadakis told a quite illustrative story:
Papadakis had a memorable first meeting with Bohn when he was working the USC-Cal game as an analyst for Fox Sports a few weeks after Bohn took the job in 2019. Papadakis was on the field pre-game talking to former teammates Keary Colbert and Lenny Vandermade.
“Bohn came up and he introduced himself,” Papadakis said. “I said, ‘You know Keary and Lenny,’ and he shook their hands and said, ‘I want you alums to be around the program a lot.’”
“They’re on your staff,” Papadakis replied, pointing out that both were currently assistant coaches for the Trojans. “I introduced him to guys that he was on the plane with. They kinda rolled their eyes at me.”
Bohn’s tenure at athletic director saw one notable win, the hire of football coach Lincoln Riley, who brought last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams with him to Oklahoma. His tenure, however, also saw the departure of championship-winning coaches Caryl Smith-Gilbert (track) and Keidane McAlpine (women’s soccer).
And now, his exit means USC is in a familiar position of administrative chaos, even though it has the headwind of Williams and the additions of Isaiah Collier, Judea Watkins and Bronny James. It can only hope its next hire goes better than Bohn’s, or Lynn Swann, or Pat Haden.