Rainbow Wahine water polo moves ahead with USC match

USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, right, was arrested by the FBI early Tuesday morning in Waikiki. He made his initial appearance at federal court that afternoon. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

The massive college admissions bribery scheme that shook the nation on Tuesday was not limited to the continental United States.

Tuesday morning, Jovan Vavic, the legendary coach of USC water polo, was arrested by the FBI in Waikiki and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering as part of the widespread case dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” He was one of several coaches, and about 50 people total arrested nationwide.

If you haven’t heard by now, USC, the top-ranked and undefeated (19-0) defending national champion, is in town to play against the No. 6 Hawaii women’s water polo team on Saturday at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex.

That 6 p.m. game seemed in jeopardy given the day’s events, but spokespersons from both UH and USC said the contest will go ahead as planned until further notice.

“If something changes we’ll definitely let everyone know,” USC’s spokeswoman said.

USC has elevated associate coach Casey Moon to interim head coach to replace Vavic. He and players were unavailable for comment Tuesday through a Trojans spokeswoman, who forwarded Hawaii Warrior World to USC’s general athletics statement:

“We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation. 

“We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university.  USC is conducting an internal investigation. (Athletics administrator) Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic have been terminated and the university will take additional employment actions as appropriate.

“USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.”

Well, it should make for an interesting match on Saturday, to say the least. Warrior World intends to be there.

Saturday’s match is the first for UH (12-3) at home since the then-No. 7 Rainbow Wahine defeated No. 5 Arizona State 10-7 to move to 4-0. There’s been a series of tough mainland matches since, including a 10-9 edging at the hands of No. 4 Cal on Saturday.


  1. iGrokSpock March 13, 2019 8:47 am

    Well the scandal shouldn’t directly affect the USC team, excepting the now former head coach and the players’ emotions. Any involved students probably would not be even on the roster because they aren’t even athletes.

  2. 808 March 13, 2019 9:47 am

    Vavic was a very dynamic and active coach during matches. It will be interesting to see if there’s any difference in the team’s emotions with Moon in charge. I’ve never seen anyone as vocal as Vavic, except our former coach, Roy.

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