Spring Break

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USC football has the week off after six grinding practices, building the foundation for a championship run in 2015. After returning from spring break, the Trojans will practice for three more weeks, culminating in the Spring Game on Saturday, April 11, at the Coliseum.

Enjoy the highlights from the first two weeks of spring ball:

All-American Walking

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Leonard Williams and Nelson Agholor made the coast-to-coast journey as part of the same recruiting class in 2012, and now the Florida products will forever live side-by-side on the All-American Walk. Both plaques went up this week along the tunnel leading out of the John McKay Center to the practice field.

State of Troy: March 2015

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Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on the future of football in light of Chris Borland's decision to retire early due to safety concerns...

USC_baseball_LR_030915_MCG1355.jpgFootball changed my life. And while it did so, I did have four concussions during my playing career (one in high school, two in college and another professionally), so I understand both sides of the debate. At USC, we believe that we have the best concussion protocol in the country because we take that concern very seriously. We travel with a neurosurgeon. We have someone in the press box observing the game to see if there is something that the trainers and coaches might miss on the field. While we have taken every possible measure to prevent and treat them, concussions are going to occur in football, as we also deal with in soccer and other sports here at USC, so everybody has to make that decision for themselves about the costs and benefits of any sport.

Haden wraps up the USC men's basketball season...

In my opinion, the talent level clearly was better, but the disappointing thing is that it did not translate into more wins. I was hoping to take a little bigger leap this year, but I am still optimistic about where we are heading. Unlike football, where you need to bring in 15-20 good players a year to stay competitive, basketball just relies on two or three, and we have two talented 6-foot-10 big men coming in next year to help. I would expect to see a major leap next year in our men's basketball program.

Haden on patience paying off with USC baseball...

A lot of fan bases want you to fire a coach after 15 minutes of losing a game. As an athletic director, I think you need to be a little patient and let a coach play out a recruiting cycle or two or even three. I do not know what the right number is for a coach, but it is certainly not a year or even two. Coach [Dan] Hubbs has had a strategy about upgrading his pitching, which I think he has done, and now we are scoring more runs too. I am thrilled by baseball's progress. We have a tremendous tradition with more national championships than any school in the country, and I think we have a team that can make a postseason run this year.

USC_Athletic_Director_Speaker_Series_Condoleeza_Rice_031615_MCG8097.jpgHaden on USC track & field ahead of the Trojan Invitational this weekend...

I think Caryl Smith Gilbert and her staff have been awesome. Not good, but awesome. I think she is going to win multiple national championships here as our Director of Track & Field. Sprinting has always been the lifeblood of the program, but we are focusing on getting more out of our field events led by our throwing coach Dan Lange. This weekend, the Trojan Invitational provides a great opportunity for our fan base, particularly those track enthusiasts, to come out and watch our teams, which both could contend for national championships.

Haden on the new Athletic Director Speaker Series...

Two of our development officers, Alexandra Bitterlin and Scott Jacobson, came to me with the idea of the speaker series as a way to elevate the conversation around athletics. We want to strive to be a thought leader and grow our relationship with the University on multiple levels. This week, we partnered with the USC Price School of Public Policy to welcome Dr. Condoleezza Rice who discussed governance in collegiate sports. We have not announced the next speaker, but it is nice to take a break from always talking about nose tackles and free throws to look at things in a different light.

Enough Wealth to Spread

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No. 1 USC women's golf won its third tournament of the season, besting the field at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational by 11 strokes, thanks to its rotating cast of elite talent. While four Trojans finished in the Top 7, sophomore Karen Chung topped the field, becoming the fourth player on the current roster with multiple collegiate wins.

Chung (pictured) is the third Trojan to finish first in an event this year, joining fellow sophomore Gabriella Then and former NCAA individual champion Annie Park. Junior Kyung Kim, a two-time All-American, posted her fourth Top 10 of the year, and she now owns 21 career rounds in the 60s, one shy of Sophia Popov's school record.

Click here for the complete recap.

The wealth of talent does not end there. USC's second round was its lowest ever on a Par 72 course, giving the Trojans a school-record 17-under round, surpassing the previous best round by four strokes. And, they lit up the leaderboard without Doris Chen, the reigning NCAA individual champion.


Photo Gallery: Rice Sparks Speaker Series

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USC athletic director Pat Haden has created a new speaker series to elevate the conversation around collegiate athletics. To that end, in association with the USC Price School of Public Policy, he welcomed Dr. Condoleezza Rice, a fellow CFB Playoff committee member and former Stanford Provost overseeing the athletic department, to talk about governance in college sports.

The former Secretary of State pulled no punches, preaching integrity from the top down. She believes so strongly in the student-athlete model that she would support the idea of Stanford pulling out of Division I if college athletes decide to form a players' union.

"I don't think student-athletes are or should be considered employees," said Rice. "That, to me, is a complete reversal of the entire concept of college athletics."

Click here for more from the Daily Trojan.

With that said, Rice, along with Haden, discussed many ideas to improve the overall welfare of the student-athlete. Rice is in favor of four-year guaranteed scholarships and paying the full cost of attendance, and Haden would like to see the student-athletes given more time off to garner an all-around college experience.

Here are John McGillen's photos of the night:

Heritage Golf Classic

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The Steve Sarkisian Heritage Golf Classic returns Monday, April 13, at Coto De Caza Golf & Racquet Club. The fundraiser to benefit USC athletics hosted by the Trojan Board of Directors features a shotgun start at 10 a.m. followed by a reception at 4 p.m.

Click here to RSVP!

Golfers can choose from several enticing packages and get the chance to play with current USC coaches and former great players. If you're not interested in teeing it up, come for the dinner and awards ceremony, which will include a tribute to Sam "Bam" Cunningham and much more.

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Velocity and Vulnerability

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Despite retiring 26 years ago, Tommy John's name is listed in baseball reports on an almost daily basis thanks to his association with the elbow ligament replacement surgery that has become an epidemic in the sport.

Why are pitchers' elbows unable to stand the strain of mid-90's heat?

The answer and much more will be dissected by an expert panel featuring World Series champion closer Robb Nen, pitching guru Tom House, USC Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering professor Jill McNitt-Gray and Keck School of Medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Seth Gamradt as part of a new "Visions and Voices" event, "Velocity and Vulnerability: Baseball Pitchers and the Limits of Human Performance".

Click here to RSVP for the event, which is FREE to the public.

The conversation will take place on March 31 at Dedeaux Field. After the panel discussion, you will be invited to test your arm against the radar gun, and peruse an exhibition of baseball memorabilia.


Local Roadie

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No. 7 USC men's volleyball can attack this week's two-match road trip by bus as the Trojans travel to No. 15 Cal State Northridge on Wednesday and No. 9 Long Beach State on Friday.

Here is head coach Bill Ferguson previewing the week:

2015 USC Football Coaches Clinic

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The USC Football Coaching Clinic, featuring USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and his Trojan coaching staff along with several guest head coaches, will be held April 3 and 4 at the John McKay Center on campus.

Click here to register online!

Click here for the brochure.

Click here for the registration form.

The comprehensive two-day clinic will have presentations by Sarkisian and his staff, as well as offensive and defensive staff roundtable discussions covering philosophy and scheme and in-depth position meetings led by each position coach. USC strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis also will conduct a presentation on player development and the off-season/in-season training program.

Head coach guest speakers include Boise State's Bryan Harsin, San Diego State's Rocky Long, Utah State's Matt Wells, UNLV's Tony Sanchez and Bellevue (Wash.) High's Butch Goncharoff.

The clinic also includes attendance at the USC spring football practice on April 4 on Cromwell Field, allowing attendees to see the presentations come to life.

The clinic is open to coaches of all levels, as well as fans who want to learn more about the USC football staff and its coaching philosophy.

Cost of the two-day clinic is $90 ($65 for a single day). The clinic offers a staff discount of $15 off per person for groups of five or more who pre-register together for both days.

Click here to email Jeff Fucci for more information.


Join the Force!

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The Trojan Dance Force, USC basketball's dance team, is holding open auditions for students on April 14, 15 and 17 at Galen Center.

Click here to email for more information.

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