University of Southern California’s head football coach, Steve Sarkisian, was fired earlier today (October 12) after multiple reports of the coach attending team practices and games while intoxicated.
According to Yahoo! Sports, USC athletic director Pat Haden released a statement saying Sarkisian was being let go, and it also explains the reason for Sarkisian’s dismissal from the head coach position.
“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately. I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation. Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”
Reportedly, Steve Sarkisian was absent from Sunday’s practice. It is also rumored that Sarkisian arrived inebriated to a special teams meeting but ended up leaving the building. Players claimed to have smelled alcohol on Coach Sarkisian.
Haden placed Sarkisian on leave after he had called the coach and it became “very clear to me that he is not healthy.”
Reports from the L.A. Daily News indicate that Sarkisian has shown up to games and official functions before under the influence.
Back in August, Sarkisian released an apology after using vulgar language at a USC booster event. Steve Sarkisian claimed that he had taken alcohol and medication at the same time.
Another report claimed Sarkisian was not sober during the Arizona State game that took place on September 26. During that game, USC assistant coaches insisted that Sarkisian was intoxicated. Sources claimed Sarkisian was taken out of a team huddle when he began showing signs of being under the influence.
According to a tweet posted by the L.A. Daily News, there was also an incident back in 2014 when rumors emerged that Sarkisian drank until he passed out on a flight after a game with Washington State.
BREAKING: #USC players said Sarkisian drank and passed out on flight back from Washington State game in 2014. Some reportedly took photos
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) October 11, 2015
Also occurring in 2014, a USC player claimed to have witnessed Sarkisian drinking a bottle of Patron Tequila after a game at the Coliseum with Notre Dame.
Player on last year's #USC team claims Sarkisian drank bottle of Patron Tequila after Notre Dame game at Coliseum in 2014
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) October 11, 2015
As reported by Deadspin, while serving as coach for Washington in 2011, Steve apparently bought a $90 bottle of champagne and six beers from room service while staying in L.A. for a function he was going to speak at.
Reports in 2013 surfaced that Sarkisian spent over $1,600 on alcohol during his hotel stay in Arizona for a Pac-12 Conference. Steve reportedly racked up $106 worth of minibar charges and $1,600 worth of charges at the hotel’s pool bar.
Also in 2013, Sarkisian bought tequila shots, another shot of an unspecified liquor, and beers while at a food stop with assistant coaches. Reportedly, they cashed out around noon.
On top of all of this, former players have claimed Sarkisian kept alcohol in his office.
According to SB Nation, Sarkisian has begun to seek help following his termination.
“Steve Sarkisian is aware of the termination and is deeply disappointed. But right now his No. 1 priority is getting himself well. To that end, he has checked himself into a residential treatment facility. He’s grateful for all the support that will help him get through this difficult time.”
Sarkisian is not the first coach to be fired by Haden mid-season. In 2013, Haden terminated football coach Lane Kiffin five games into the season, just like Sarkisian. He also fired basketball coach Kevin O’Neill during the 2012-2013 basketball season.
Despite his apparent drinking problem, however, Sarkisian still managed to be somewhat successful. In less than two years as head coach of USC, Steve Sarkisian helped lead the team to a 12-6 record.
[Photo Courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]