I realize many of you may be fully uninterested in any more info about Steve Sarkisian. But for those who are, these disclosures from Joey Kaufman of the OC Register reveal USC knew, or should have strongly suspected, much more about Sarkisian than what has previously been published before the verdict.
Haden and USC officials knew well they were truly dancing with fire long before many of us may have concluded. Sarkisian should obviously have never been hired based on rampant suspicions about his drinking problem while at Washington, regardless of his denials about it being an issue.
Kaufman — Staff members and donors told Pat Haden that Sarkisian had appeared to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at a booster event on April 28, 2015, at the Jonathan Club, a private club in downtown Los Angeles. They described Sarkisian’s “presentation” as “not good,” according to Haden.
Six weeks earlier, Sarkisian never arrived for a booster event at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, held March 18, 2015, while the rest of the team was on spring vacation.
“In addition,” Haden wrote months later to Sarkisian about his no-show, “I was unable to reach you for several days to find out why you are not able to make the appearance. I was told by (former director of football operations) Jared Blank and (executive assistant to head coach) Cheryl Taplin that ‘you didn’t feel well’ and they said they did not know where you were or how to reach you.”
Haden described both incidents in a signed “last-chance agreement” between the university and Sarkisian four days after his highly publicized “Salute to Troy” speech (on a Saturday night in August 2015), when he shouted a profanity and slurred his speech in front of the team, boosters, alumni and other fans.
USC ultimately fired Sarkisian on Oct. 12, 2015, one day after he did not show up for a practice (and after an Oct. 8, 17-12 loss to Washington in the Coliseum). Players and others reported to school officials that Sarkisian had appeared under the influence of alcohol at a team meeting before the practice, prompting him to leave campus.
USC officials had also questioned Sarkisian about his alcohol use prior to his hiring in late 2013, according to the arbitrator findings. Sarkisian had previously been the head coach at Washington for five seasons and the offensive coordinator for the Trojans.
The arbitrator wrote: “Sarkisian’s struggles with abuse of alcohol and alcoholism were widely rumored if not well known prior to him becoming the head football coach at USC. During the hiring process, Sarkisian flatly denied to USC officials having any issues with alcohol abuse” – while most of the subsequent paragraphs are redacted.
The arbitrator found that Sarkisian never requested time off for treatment for alcoholism until after he had violated the terms of the “last-chance agreement” (signed four days after the Salute to Troy debacle) and his contract in October.