USC is hiring Washington native Jennifer Cohen as its next athletic director

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USC has found its new Athletic Director.

The University of Southern California announced Monday afternoon that it has hired Jennifer Cohen from Washington to run its athletics department. Cohen will replace Mike Boone, who abruptly stepped down from his position in May.

Cohen has been the athletic director at Washington since 2016, but has been with the University of Washington since 1998. She first joined the staff of the UW athletic department as the assistant director of development. She also worked as a fundraiser for both the university and the athletic department before working her way up to Director of Sports.

Additionally, Cohen is a Southern California native who was recently named to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

The school said Cohen’s first day on the job at USC would be on Tuesday.

“Gene is an experienced, effective, and consistent leader with a student-centered approach to building and running an athletics program. She has developed a reputation as a fierce competitor who wants to win every sport the right way,” USC President Carol Wohlt said. “We are witnessing an unprecedented transformation of college athletics, and Gene has the strategic vision and experience to lead USC athletics through this historic time that includes joining the premier conference in America, the Big Ten, and hosting multiple venues for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Never has there been a more exciting or important period in the history of USC athletics.”

In Washington, Cohen oversaw the transition of head football coach Chris Petersen to Jimmy Lake, and also made the decision to fire Lake after only 13 games. From there, Cohen hired Kalen DeBoer from Fresno State and DeBoer quickly got the Huskies back on the winning track. UW went 4-8 in 2021 before going 11-2 in 2022, DeBoer’s first year on the job.

USC, meanwhile, is entering its second season under Lincoln Riley, who Boone was able to hire away from Oklahoma. Riley led the Trojans to an 11-3 record last fall.

The news comes just weeks after Washington accepted an invitation to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. USC is also making the move for the Big Ten, starting in 2024.

“It is an honor to return to Southern California to serve as the director of athletics at USC and officially join the Trojans,” Cohen said. “USC is a national powerhouse in every measure of college athletics, and I look forward to honoring the Trojans’ heritage while working alongside the amazing USC athletics team as we embrace both the opportunities and challenges of this complex moment.”

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