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New USC president to be inaugurated Friday

October 14, 2010 |  9:18 am

If the incoming USC president needed a reminder that allegations involving the football team had damaged the university's broader reputation, he got one during a bicycle ride this summer.

C.L. "Max" Nikias, who had not yet started his new job, was wearing a USC T-shirt as he tooled around Sun Valley, Idaho, in June, soon after the NCAA announced sanctions against the university's sports programs. He had already had some discussions about how to respond to the NCAA, but shouts of "Shame on USC!" from passersby in the resort town were a turning point, he says.

A few weeks later, in actions applauded on and off the campus, Nikias ousted Athletic Director Mike Garrett, replacing him with former USC quarterback Pat Haden, a longtime trustee. He also ordered officials to return the university's copy of the 2005 Heisman trophy won by former running back Reggie Bush, whose NCAA violations were a major cause of the sanctions. USC is appealing the severity of the penalties, which include banning the football program from bowl games for two years, but Nikias was able to calm the catcalls and emerge through the crisis to start his presidency in August.

On Friday morning, Nikias, a Cyprus-born electrical engineer who was USC's second in command for five years, will be formally inaugurated as the school's 11th president in a campus ceremony expected to draw about 10,000 guests.

Read the full story here.

-- Larry Gordon

Photo: C.L. "Max" Nikias, USC's provost and second-in-command, will become the school's next president Friday. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times