Jennifer Cohen Appointed First Female Athletics Director at USC

University of Washington athletics director Jennifer Cohen has been appointed as the new head of athletics at the University of Southern California, marking a historic milestone as the first woman to lead the Trojan athletic programs. In a press conference on Monday, Cohen, who was born in Arcadia and has familial ties to the Los Angeles area, expressed her profound admiration for USC’s legendary teams, letter winners, and the university’s significant presence in the LA sports culture.

Cohen has been at the helm of the UW athletics program since 2016 and recently played a pivotal role in the university’s decision, aligning with USC, to transition from the Pac-12 Conference to the Big Ten Conference in 2024. This strategic move has also been adopted by UCLA and the University of Oregon. At the time of her appointment, Cohen stood as one of the few women holding an athletic director role at a Power 5 school.

USC President Carol Folt conveyed her confidence in Cohen’s capabilities, stating, “Jen has over three decades of experience in athletics and is widely recognized as a seasoned, engaged, and unwavering leader who prioritizes the well-being of student-athletes while striving for excellence in all areas. Her unwavering commitment to fair play and success resonates with the values upheld by our coaches, student-athletes, staff, and faculty, making her the ideal candidate to spearhead our athletic department.”

Cohen will succeed Mike Bohn, who unexpectedly resigned in May after serving as USC’s athletic director since 2019. Reports suggest that his departure was linked to an internal investigation into his conduct during his tenure as head of the athletics program. In her official statement, Folt emphasized the need for exemplary leadership amidst the university’s pursuit of excellence, saying, “As we transition to the Big Ten and strive to maintain our position as a national powerhouse, it is imperative that we assess the operations, culture, and strategy of our athletics department. With a solid foundation already established, this juncture calls for fresh direction that aligns with our core values and the expertise necessary to fulfill our ambitious vision for Trojan athletics.”

Folt’s message announcing Cohen’s appointment underscored USC’s recent investments in their athletics enterprise, which have paved the way for an impressive transformation of the program. With the upcoming move to the Big Ten conference, Folt emphasized the importance of selecting a leader who can navigate the ever-evolving landscape of intercollegiate athletics while capitalizing on the momentum achieved in recent years. Furthermore, Folt emphasized the significance of preserving USC’s commitment to providing student-athletes with the resources needed for success both on and off the field, highlighting the aim of maintaining the most student-centric athletics program in the nation.

In light of these aspirations, Folt expressed her utmost confidence in Cohen, regarding her as a visionary leader who will guide USC’s 21 sports teams towards greatness. Cohen’s role extends beyond athletics, as she will also assume a vital position within Folt’s leadership team and participate actively in shaping the Trojan community.

With the appointment of Jennifer Cohen, USC looks forward to a new era of athletics, characterized by progress, success, and a steadfast commitment to fulfilling the university’s ambitious goals.

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