Hiring Mike Garrett as athletic director raises the bar at Langston

Heisman Trophy winner and former USC athletic director knew very little about Langston. “I vaguely knew it was in Oklahoma,” Garrett said.
by Ed Godfrey Published: June 7, 2012
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Asked about the way things ended on his watch at USC, Garrett said: “You know what, what we did at USC speaks for itself. I thought we attained what we wanted to do. Academically, USC competes with everyone now and athletically I don't think there is a better school in the country.”

Garrett called the NCAA violations during his administration at USC, “things beyond our control. Those things happen.”

Smith, who was appointed in January but officially became Langston's president just four days ago, said he “did his due diligence” in investigating the facts of the USC scandal.

The NCAA would not share many details because Langston is not an NCAA school, Smith said. But Smith said he and Garrett discussed it at length. Smith said he also spoke with USC officials.

“Be assured, we did discuss everything that happened,” said Smith, who was vice president for student affairs at Ohio University before accepting the Langston presidency.

“I may not know every intricate detail. I am comfortable that we are going to move forward and we've hired the best person. I believe he has a strong family value set and he is about doing the right thing, I have no doubts about that. What happened at USC happened. I wasn't there but I trust my gut instinct and it tells me he was the right person to hire and he will lead us to new heights and we will do it the right way. I really do believe that.

“The reality is this man has won at the highest level, he has had great graduation rates. He has done some phenomenal things in his lifetime and we are honored to have him.”

Smith said the details of Garrett's contract is still to be negotiated but it's expected to be a multi-year deal with an annual salary of $90,000.

“We are not talking about a very high salary,” Smith said. “He is truly buying in the mission of Langston University and where we are trying to go.”

Garrett doesn't think he will have a difficult time transitioning from one of the most storied athletic programs in USC to Langston, a NAIA school that draws about 1,500 fans to its football games.

He said Langston and nearby Edmond reminds him of the Kansas City area, where he spent his first four years of professional football playing for the Chiefs.

Langston hired former University of Nebraska quarterback Mickey Joseph as the Lions' football coach last season. Langston was 7-3 in Joseph's first season and he welcomes Garrett aboard.

Joseph said he wasn't concerned about Garrett's past and the scandal at USC.

“It happens. He manned up for it. He paid his price for it,” Joseph said. “Why not have a fresh brand new start?”

Joseph said his players are excited about the hiring of Garrett, whose presence will help recruiting, Joseph said.

“It's going to help when we get (recruits) on campus and are able to bring him over and let him speak to them,” Joseph said. “It's instant credibility.”

Garrett said he's been contacted by numerous Trojan alums who are very supportive of his new career choice.

“That's what's important to me,” he said.

Asked if Langston fans might see former USC football players at Lions' games this fall, Garrett said, “The number of Trojans who have called and said, ‘How do I get to Langston?' I wouldn't be surprised.”

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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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