- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2015

Amid accusations of alcoholism and disappointment on the field, USC fired coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday.

The university had put Sarkisian on an indefinite leave of absence Sunday with plans for rehabilitation, as media reports indicated he showed up drunk on the job and engaged in other alcohol-related misbehavior.

Athletic director Pat Haden instead put the hammer down on Monday, firing him outright and naming Clay Helton the interim coach.

“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,” Haden said in a statement.

“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.”

The leave of absence was imposed Sunday when Sarkisian reportedly did not show up for a practice and Haden told reporters at the time that it was clear Sarkisian was “not healthy.”

Sarkisian got in trouble for inappropriate language at a booster event in August and later said that it was the result of mixing alcohol with medication. The Los Angeles Daily News reported on Sunday night, citing other coaches and players, that Sarkisian was drunk during games or in the locker room or during plane rides afterward.

The Trojans had not lived up to expectations on the field this year, going just 3-2 in their first five games after having been ranked in the preseason top 10, with both losses coming against Pac-12 opponents Stanford and Washington.

USC will play Notre Dame on Saturday in the first game for Helton, who was previously the Trojans’ interim coach for their Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State in 2013.


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