Mike Garrett has been savaged by media and fans since he was unceremoniously ousted as USC Athletic Director by school President-elect Max Nikias last week.
After 17 years on the job, Garrett departs with USC having recently been saddled with the harshest NCAA sanctions against a college football program since the SMU death penalty. Characterizing those penalties as the result of “envy” reportedly enraged Nikias and may have contributed to Garrett’s ouster.
But despite the dire consequences of NCAA-cited “lack of institutional control”, at least one prominent alumnus of USC is sticking up for Garrett in the aftermath of his ouster.
The LOS ANGELES TIMES published this letter from Lakers Owner Jerry Buss last Friday:
There doesn’t seem to be much love shown for Mike Garrett and I would like to correct this if I may. I think in the future, the last 17 years will be known as one of the Golden Ages of USC sports. It is doubtful to me if we will ever win as many NCAA championships in such a short period of time as we have done under Mike. The football was fun; the basketball was fun; the track & field a glimmering of its past glory under impossible circumstances (the limitation of scholarships imposed on USC).
I would also like to point out that for 50 years as a loyal Trojan, I prayed for someone with the ability, foresight and courage to attempt to build our own sports arena. This was accomplished by Mike Garrett even though there were numerous predecessors who attempted unsuccessfully to do the same thing.
Let’s not kid ourselves — things were wonderful under Mike and although I hope things will be even better under Pat Haden, I think we owe Mr. Garrett a very deep debt of gratitude.
Jerry H. Buss
(The writer is the owner of the Lakers)
The erection of the Galen Center was no mean feat and as the athletic director at the time of its completion, Garrett does deserve credit.
I also admire the loyalty displayed by Buss considering the overwhelming criticism leveled at Garrett over the years. His gesture certainly gives insight into how Buss approaches his life and business.
But Buss stated on the record recently that he does not have intimate knowledge of the machinations of the USC athletic department, so I presume his insight into Garrett’s day-to-day job performance would be somewhat limited.
Though the show of loyalty by Buss is admirable, most affiliated with USC would fail to agree with his stance on the former A.D.