USC fires three senior athletic officials; sources say they were tied to recent scandal

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When Mike Bohn was hired as the first outsider to lead USC athletics in decades, sweeping changes were expected inside a historically insular department recently racked by scandal.

Those changes at Heritage Hall have begun, according to multiple people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly. Three of USC’s most senior officials in the athletic department are out, including Steve Lopes, the CFO and COO, who’d long been considered second in command.

Their removals stem in part from concerns over recent turmoil, including the “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal, The Times has learned. One department official, Donna Heinel, was indicted on federal bribery charges last year.

Ron Orr, a senior associate athletic director who led the Trojan Athletic Fund, is also out, along with associate athletic director Scott Jacobson, who also worked in development and fundraising.

Ron Orr

Ron Orr in 2008.

(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The moves also come in part because of the desire of new athletic department leadership to bring in its own people.

Lopes’ exit, after 35 years in the department, sends a clear message of change at the start of a new era for Trojan athletics. Under USC’s previous three directors, Lopes played a major role in determining the direction of the department.

When Pat Haden left in 2016, Lopes was seen as one of the leading candidates to replace him as athletic director.

Orr, a former All-American swimmer at USC, had been with the athletic department just as long as Lopes. He was promoted to senior associate athletic director in 2010, tasked with taking care of the Trojan Athletic Fund, the fundraising arm of the department.