Varsity Blues Scandal: The (Trojan) Empire Strikes Back!

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If Tommy could speak, what might he say about the latest USC scandal? Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

LOS ANGELES, CA. As #2 Stanford and #1 Southern Cal prepare to clash today in the first home water polo match for the Trojan women since the massive Varsity Blues admissions scandal resulted in the firing of Jovan Vavic, USC’s long-time men’s and women’s head coach, the Trojans are not exactly taking this scandal lying on their shields.

[Stanford vs. USC: Tale of the Water Polo Tape]

In a message that was circulating on social media earlier this week, USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann rallied the Trojan community in support of his besieged water polo community. Addressing “Trojan Fans,” Swann’s missive cited today’s match at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center as the “biggest game of the season to date,” while admitting that the past few weeks have been “uniquely trying” for his team.

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No doubt about it. USC fans love their Trojan women—and will be out in force today. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The NFL Hall of Famer—who starred for USC from 1971 – 74 during the now glorious (for Trojan faithful) John McKay era, when men’s football was a regular contender for the national championship—was quite pointed in his appeal.

“Our defending national championship water polo team, which handed the Cardinal it’s only loss in February, will put its 20-0 record on the line. The last two weeks have been uniquely trying for our team. All our players have responded with resiliency, tenacity and heart, and the team deserves as much encouragement as the Trojan Family can bring.”

Admonishing USC supporters to “Pack the stands,” he finishes with a “Fight On!” closing—which is likely music to the Trojans’s ears.

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However, as pointed out on Twitter—and confirmed by the USC Media Department—Swann will not be at Uytengsu today or on campus. The USC AD has a previously scheduled commitment—unconfirmed reports suggest he’s in Virginia, signing autographs.

Also continuing to fight is Vavic, the man currently at the center of scandals that have rocked the USC community. Last year has former president C.L. Max Nikias was forced to resign amid major controversies—including reports of sexual misconduct by a USC gynecologist and accusations against a medical school dean who allegedly smoked methamphetamine with a woman who subsequently overdosed.

A press release from the firm of Stephen G. Larson, formerly a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, announced that the distinguished jurist and prosecutor will lead the defense of the accused former coach.

[Commentary: The Rise and Scandalous Fall Of USC Water Polo Coach Jovan Vavic]

Larson, who retired from the federal bench in 2009, is a founding partner for Larson O’Brien LLP, which has successfully defended a number of California clients in high-profile cases.

Recruiting a top-flight defense attorney is key for Vavic. The embattled former coach is not only fighting to restore his tattered reputation but is also seeking to avoid penalties on a criminal racketeering charge that could be as many as 20 years of jail time and up to $250,000 in fines.

According to the federal indictment, Vavic received $250,000 as payment from William “Rick” Singer for falsely assisting two applicants to gain admission to USC as water polo athletes, even though they had never played.

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Stephen G. Larson. Photo Courtesy: Larson O’Brein LLP

Vavic, known for the intensity and relentless pressure his teams would put on opposing defenses, has replicated this approach in selecting legal counsel. Larson is a graduate of USC’s Gould of Law and acknowledged an affinity for his alma mater and its athletic programs. In the press release, he said that Vavic “… led the [USC] water polo program to greatness across the country”

He further said that Vavic was “a family man of renown integrity” who is “innocent of these charges and will prove so in court.”

Despite his reputation for jurisprudence, Larson has a high bar for to clear if he’s to exonerate Vavic and restore the reputation of the now-disgraced coach. Documents have surfaced that link both USC water polo and Loyola High School, where two of Vavic’s sons attended, to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit organization that Singer allegedly used to funnel payments as part of his bribery scheme.

-Opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

7 comments

  1. Antonio Busquets

    Tremendo juego
    Las mujeres de natacion ganaron NCAA

    • Carlos Lomba

      Antonio Busquets Yep. Entramos el último día por delante pero Stanford tuvo su mejor día y lograron reponerse y superar la desventaja. Pero en los hombres debemos ganar hoy en la noche y quitarle el título a Texas q llevan arriba 3 años corrido

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Undoubtedly – which is why you WANT to see them play…

      Your correspondent

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Ha! You’re funny!

      Actually, it was a fantastic match today—and any one who cares about the sport should appreciate that.

      Your correspondent