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State of Troy: May

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Each month, we interview Pat Haden to discuss the hot topics around USC Athletics.

This week marks the one year anniversary of Junior Seau's death.  What are your thoughts on the state of player safety in football?

The concussion discussion is really on the front of everyone's mind.  I recently hosted 120 athletic directors at a summit in Santa Monica, and we had a panel dedicated to this topic with chief doctors from the NFL and NCAA.  I think we are going to see rule changes going forward.  We are going to push research here at USC and other universities across the land.  And in terms of our program, we have much less contact than what the NCAA allows you to do.  Lane Kiffin is trying to create a team that can win and be physical, and still protect our kids from short and long term injuries by not overdoing it.

Thumbnail image for DSC_5055.jpgNow that they are settled in, what are your expectations for Andy Enfield (pictured) and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke?

The idea was to really reset basketball here at USC.  The women have had real historical success, and there is no reason that we cannot get back to that with Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.  We think she is the right leader for our program.  She is a tenacious recruiter, one of the all-time great players and turned around two programs before coming here.  On the men's side, Andy Enfield is figuring out what it's like to be a Trojan. While it is maybe crazy to say this, Chip Kelly (former Oregon football coach) has this odd way of looking at football, and I think Andy has a little bit of that in men's basketball.  He just looks at the game differently than other basketball coaches.  Los Angeles is loaded with prospects the next three years, so we hope we can get some of those guys and create an entertaining brand of basketball to fill up Galen Center.

Come meet Enfield and Cooper-Dyke on the 2013 Coaches Tour.

With its first season now in the books, what were your impressions of USC women's lacrosse year one?

Haden-Munday-JK-Hilary-PC.jpgIt seems like Lindsey Munday has been here a decade, but this is just their first year of competition.  She is phenomenal.  She is still a great player as the captain of the U.S. National Team.  Everyone thought we would just be slaughtered in our first year playing mostly freshmen, but we have some of the best freshmen in the country.  Lindsey has recruited fantastically, particularly back East, and this freshmen class is going to be a part of something special by the time they are done here.  It was a remarkable first year for this program, Lindsey and her staff.

(Pictured from left: J.K. McKay, Munday, Haden and Hilary Bowen)

It is national championship season at Troy.  How much hardware can the Trojans carry home this spring?

It is a really great time of year, and we have a chance to do something special with three women's teams ranked No. 1.  Andrea Gaston is the best women's golf coach in the country.  We lost the NCAA title by a single stroke last year, and she always has her team in the hunt.  I am hoping to go down to Athens, Georgia, to watch our women compete for a national championship in golf.  Women's water polo is once again phenomenal.  Jovan Vavic has an amazing daughter Monica on the team, and he has his son Nikola who is a star on the men's team. I hope he has a bunch more kids as I look forward to our water polo program dominating forever.  Our women's rowing team won the trifecta in San Diego, and they have been terrific.  And while women's tennis is ranked No. 5, they really have a shot at winning a national championship led by our undefeated doubles team of Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian.  We also have sand volleyball competing for a national title this weekend in Alabama.

As we close out another academic year, how has the year been on the other side of the student-athlete hyphen?

Our kids are some of the world's best athletes, and to be the world's best athletes, it takes a lot of dedication, time and focus.  And then to graduate from a premier university like USC, it really is a tribute to them.  It was not like this when I was here.  Our graduation rates and statistics continue to be outstanding as 84% of our seniors are expected to graduate this spring or summer, and the rest are on course to finish in the fall.  The Student-Athlete Graduation is a special time for the graduate to celebrate with their coach, teammates, family and friends.  For some of us, it is a sad day because we do not want to see them go.  I am just in awe of them.

Click here for your invitation to the Student-Athlete Graduation.

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