AD Haden makes theatrical debut in USC play

USC athletic director Pat Haden has been encouraging his student-athletes over the years to venture out for the full college experience.

To accomplish that, Haden told them to do something on campus that was out of their comfort zone. And what better way to do that than to lead by example?

Haden, the former USC and NFL quarterback and Rhodes Scholar, walked the walk and made his theatrical debut on Thursday in USC’s spring musical, ‘The Most Happy Fella,’ which runs through April 14.

It’s been a busy week for Haden. Fresh off signing Andy Enfield to lead the USC men’s basketball program, Haden practiced what he preached and prepared for his performance on stage.

He approached the USC School of Dramatic Arts for a possible role and they happily welcomed him in.

Haden admitted he chose to act because it was “the most uncomfortable thing I could possibly do.

“I’ve been telling my athletes for three years: ‘Don’t just hang around with basketball players or football players or tennis players. It’s a big world, a big university. You have this one point in your life, your college years, when you can really try some different things. Get out of the gyms, the pools, the courts, and get into the general student population. You have this time. Don’t waste it.’” Haden said.

Haden’s role plays a postman in the 1956 Broadway hit, which includes a solo singing performance. Not so comforting, but he was up for the challenge.

 “The point is, I learned about a part of the campus I wasn’t ever aware of,” Haden said. “If our football team or tennis team or any of our teams watched how hard they worked, they’d say: ‘Oh my goodness.’ And if these theater students watched our athletes prepare, I think they’d say the same thing.”