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Mike Bohn addresses athletics uncertainties

USC Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn joined the Trojans Live radio show on Monday evening and fielded questions on an array of topics, mostly related to the spring athletic shutdown due to the spread of COVID-19.

Below is the full transcript of Bohn’s appearance.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn on having to announce that all spring sports had been canceled:

“It is an unprecedented time for all of us. I’m not sure in my 35 years of athletic administration I’ve ever felt the true emotion and heartache for student athletes and coaches, and having to share with them that their seasons were over, and what that meant. We had a team that was on a bus driving to play a lacrosse match in Arizona. We had our basketball team getting ready to participate in March Madness, our women’s basketball team having the ability to play in the postseason for the first time in six years, our tennis team, our women’s golf team competing for national championships along with women’s water polo. We just had incredible momentum and just knowing how hard those coaches and athletes and so many staff members, so many great things that they’ve done to put them in a great position, it truly is heartbreaking.”

Bohn on his daily routine:

“Every day we start off with a call to all the athletic directors from the Pac-12 conference and commissioner [Larry] Scott and his staff. We talk about updates from the NCAA. We talk about updates from the Autonomy 5 conferences. We talk about different ideas on how to address the challenges from, obviously the network, to eligibility, to recruiting, to practice time, and it sounds easy, but all of those complexities are exactly that, complex issues that have far-reaching implications associated with the daily lives of our student athletes. And that’s what makes it so difficult. Then we follow that up with calls with our senior leadership team in the athletic department. I just got off the phone with the Trojan Athlete Senate tonight, trying to get a sense from those athletes and those captains on how they’re feeling. And then obviously trying to keep up with the wonderful work that our entire campus is working on it. As a member of the leadership team with the president and all those executives on campus trying to figure out what’s going on with food and housing and training and all the different aspects associated with services for our student athletes that need to continue to carry on. We have some athletes who have been through off-season surgeries and how are we rehabbing them? And what are we doing to help ensure that our academics, and our student-athletes are able to stay on track with all of our classes being online and the technology associated with that? Our student-athlete support services group has been phenomenal with that and helping our student athletes. Obviously all those elements are a challenge, but our head coaches and our staff have really responded in a big way and I’m inspired by that and I can tell the student athletes today that were on the TAS call, they really understand our commitment to their success.”

Bohn on the academic challenges facing student-athletes as they transition to online classes:

“Obviously it’s a huge challenge, but again our SAS team did a great job to make sure everybody is able to get the materials online and be able to see the lectures, seeing all the different pieces of that and understanding the challenges associated with communicating back and forth with professors, picking up the different learning rhythm, if you will. We’ve only had one day of it, so I’m hopeful that we can continue to make progress there, so our athletes know, and every student at USC knows the faculty is committed to ensuring that they can pick up all those key elements associated with progress toward their degrees.”

Bohn on whether discussions have taken place relating to COVID-19 potentially affecting fall sports:

“Yes and no. The league call every day that I mentioned, we talk about some of those scenarios, but right now the focus is on trying to figure out when is the next look-in date associated with opportunities to reveal that. We anticipate at the end of the month, having further direction from the NCAA on eligibility and potential opportunities to work on practice elements and so forth, but it’s just unclear at this point. And again, it’s very, very complex. At the same time, we also look, alright, how much time do we have associated with maybe some clearance to begin to do some planning. But we do not have any indication that would allow us to do that with any type of confidence at this point.”

Bohn on whether he has received clarification on extra eligibility for spring sport seniors:

“We do not, and that’s one of the critical pieces we’re waiting on from the NCAA by the end of the month is some direction associated with how that is implemented for affected student athletes. I think there [are] numerous different thoughts and ideas that are circulating on how to address that and it’ll be a busy week for us as we try and gain some momentum to try and help those athletes.”

Bohn on the financial losses caused by these postponements and cancelations:

“There’s two elements of that. Obviously, the distribution from the NCAA and then each  institution’s revenue generating opportunities. We’ve been so fortunate to have many of our donors and fans say how can we help, what can we do to help these student athletes, which is certainly comforting. And then trying to deal with an anticipated 70% reduction from the NCAA distribution this year. Those are major hurdles for us, and I know that the NCAA is working on insurance elements, working on lines of credit, working on all kinds of solutions to help us deal with that at the campus level. And again, those are in play and still really undefined at this point.”

Bohn when asked about downtime entertainment suggestions:

“I was watching the Netflix deal (Basketball or Nothing), I only got through about three episodes, of the Arizona high school team that plays, and their new coach and adjusting to their style. I enjoyed watching that, just watching young people compete and watching a coach try and compete for a state championship. So I’ve enjoyed watching that.”

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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