USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take a leave of absence, seek treatment
Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Southern California Trojans watches warm ups prior to a game against the Arizona State University Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.
USC coach Steve Sarkisian was asked to take a leave of absence from the program, athletic director Pat Haden announced Sunday afternoon.Clay Helton will serve as USC’s interim coach moving forward.Sarkisian was inexplicably absent at the Trojans practice on Sunday, which prompted whispers about his whereabouts and a call to Haden.“This all kind of happened very quickly,” Haden said in a brief meeting with press. “I was over at basketball and got a call that coach Sarkisian wasn’t at practice. So, I just learned about this about 1 o’clock. I called Steve, talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”Haden did not elaborate on what the term “not healthy” meant. However, a player told ESPN’s Shelley Smith via text that Sarkisian “showed up lit to meetings again today.”
Haden, senior associate AD Steve Lopes and Helton met with the team shortly after practice to explain Sarkisian’s absence and the steps moving forward.In August, Sarkisian was drunk and used inappropriate language at a USC booster function. He apologized for the incident and said he mixed alcohol and medication.At the time of the incident, Haden said he met with Sarkisian and told him his actions were inappropriate, disappointing and would not be tolerated in the future. Haden did not suspend Sarkisian. Sarkisian did say he was going to get treatment for his alcohol and drug use.Washington upset USC 17-12 on Thursday, which prompted calls for Sarkisian’s job.