Former University of Southern California football player and athletic director Pat Haden has come under scrutiny by federal investigators for potential ties to William "Rick" Singer, the established ringleader of the college admissions scandal that broke earlier this year.
"Like many people, I was introduced to Mr. Singer several years ago by a friend," Haden said in a statement released by his son-in-law. "I was unaware of his illegal activities and had no ongoing relationship with him whatsoever."
Donnie Dixon Haden added that his father-in-law had not “been contacted by or spoken to federal authorities.”
Haden, 66, who played quarterback for the Trojans before returning to run the athletic department over a six-year period beginning in 2010, is no stranger to corruption. Shortly before stepping down as athletic director, Haden came under scrutiny when the Times reported he had pocketed more than $1 million in his role as chairman of a foundation that gave academic scholarships to students studying at USC and elsewhere. Haden, his daughter and sister-in-law together collected a total of about $2.4 million from the foundation for part-time roles that involved minimal work during a period when the number of scholarships awarded by the charity fell dramatically, according to the Times.
As reported by the Times on Wednesday, questions about Haden’s possible involvement with Singer have swirled since prosecutors detailed in court papers the role one of his former deputies at USC, Donna Heinel, allegedly played in helping Singer sneak the children of wealthy clients into USC by falsely claiming they were recruited athletes.