USC football: Willie Mack Garza resigns from coaching staff
"I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC," Garza said in a statement. "I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won't be with them in what I know will be a very successful season."
USC is in final preparations for Saturday’s season opener against Minnesota at the Coliseum.
Garza was not at practice Thursday morning. Asked afterward why Garza was absent Coach Lane Kiffin said, "Willie's dealing with a personal issue. That's all I can say."
Asked if he was still a member of the staff, Kiffin reiterated that Garza was dealing with a personal issue. "At this time, right now, that's all that I can say."
Kiffin informed players of Garza's resignation via text message at noon.
Athletic Director Pat Haden could not be immediately reached for comment.
Garza, 42, came with Kiffin from Tennessee, where the 2009 coaching staff was recently found to have committed 12 secondary violations of NCAA rules.
Haden has spoken of creating a "culture of compliance" at USC, which is still on probation after being hit with some of the most severe sanctions in college sports history. The penalties included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.
Garza played at Texas and was in his 18th season of coaching college football. He was a graduate assistant at Texas and also coached at Western Michigan, Texas Christian, Tarleton (Texas) State and North Dakota State before joining Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee in 2009.
Former USC and NFL safety Sammy Knight is a graduate assistant on the staff and could oversee the secondary.
More later at latimes.com/sports
-- Gary Klein
Photo: Willie Mack Garza. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times.