USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence

USC Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian will take an indefinite leave of absence. 
Publish date:

USC Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian will take an indefinite leave of absence, athletic director Pat Haden announced Sunday. Sarkisian is leaving the team to seek treatment, according to multiplereports.

Haden sent Sarkisian home from Trojans practice Sunday. "It was clear to me that he's not healthy," Haden said. "And I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence."

Some assistant coaches believe Sarkisian was not sober during the Trojans’ game against Arizona State on Sept. 26, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The Daily News also reported players said Sarkisian was not sober at Sunday’s team meeting, and never went to practice.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that Sarkisian’s problems with alcohol date back to his time as the head coach at Washington. The Times spoke to several former Huskies players, some of whom said they could smell alcohol on Sarkisian’s breath during team meetings. 

The Times also reviewed hundreds of pages of expense reports from Sarkisian’s time at Washington, including a receipt from January 2013 that showed Sarkisian and three of his assistants ordered eight shots of hard liquor and five beers before noon. 

In August, after he appeared to be intoxicated at a booster event, Sarkisian told reporters he would seek treatment for his alcohol consumption but that he did not have a drinking problem. He said his actions at the event were the result of mixing alcohol with an unspecified medication. Sarkisian also said in August he would “without a doubt” swear off alcohol for the rest of the season.

Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be the team’s interim coach. USC is 3–2 this season, coming off a loss to Sarkisian’s former team, the Washington Huskies, on Thursday.

- Rohan Nadkarni