Steve Sarkisian Terminated as USC Head Football Coach

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USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian was terminated Monday, one day after he was placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the team, USC announced on Twitter.

The tweet from @USC_Athletics linked to the following statement from USC Athletic Director Pat Haden:

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.

Sarkisian did not attend the Trojans practice on Sunday and was placed on an indefinite leave following a conversation with Haden.

“It was very clear to me that he is not healthy,” Haden told reporters at a brief news conference. “I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”

Sarkisian came under fire before the season started for his erratic behavior at the “Salute to Troy” kickoff event, where he slurred words, used an expletive, and told the crowd of supporters that several opponents “sucked.”

Sarkisian issued an apology the following day.

At a news conference two days after the incident, Sarkisian said he would seek treatment in order to determine whether he had a drinking problem.

Incidents involving Sarkisian’s behavior date back to his days as head coach at the University of Washington, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Following the “Salute to Troy” event, the Times interviewed dozens of people about Sarkisian’s time in Washington, including one ex-player who said the coach sometimes arrived at morning meetings “smelling like booze,” the newspaper reported.

Others stated that Sarkisian’s use of alcohol became a running joke among the players, according to the Times.

Sarkisian’s termination comes four days after the USC’s loss to the Washington Huskies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was the Trojans’ second loss in five games this season.

Sarkisian coached USC to a 9-4 record in 2014, including a Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska on Dec. 27.

Interim coach Clay Helton led the Trojans to a victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl after taking over for Ed Orgeron, who quit following the regular season.

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