The former UW coach was dismissed from USC a day after he reportedly showed up to a team meeting drunk. Sarkisian coached his last game for USC against his old team, losing 17-12 to the Huskies.
Steve Sarkisian was fired Monday in the middle of his second season at USC, a day after reports surfaced that the former University of Washington coach had shown up drunk to a Trojans team meeting.
USC placed Sarkisian, 41, on indefinite leave Sunday. He reportedly will seek treatment for alcohol.
“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,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement.
“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 coached his last game for USC against his former team Thursday night, when the Huskies upset the 17th-ranked Trojans 17-12 in Los Angeles.
In August, Sarkisian made a public apology for his behavior at a USC pep rally during which he appeared intoxicated and made profane statements about USC opponents. He blamed his behavior on a mixture of alcohol and medication.
Since then, questions have arisen about Sarkisian’s alcohol consumption during his five years as the coach at UW. The Seattle Times in August published receipts, totaling $1,023, for alcohol for which UW had reimbursed Sarkisian from two group retreats in 2012 and 2013.
On six other out-of-town trips from 2010 to 2013, UW reimbursed Sarkisian more $1,118 in alcohol, according to receipts obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
One source close to the Huskies program said UW administrators were aware of Sarkisian’s social drinking, but they didn’t believe it was an issue that affected his job performance.
“He liked to have a good time here,” the source said, “but it seems like he took it to a whole other level down there.”
Former players interviewed by The Seattle Times also said they were aware of Sarkisian’s social drinking. One former player said Sarkisian liked to have a beer before a game, to calm his nerves in private, but he couldn’t recall Sarkisian appearing intoxicated at a UW game or team meeting.
UW athletic director Scott Woodward issued a brief statement Monday: “It is evident that Steve is dealing with a serious personal matter, and we wish him the best in facing whatever challenges lay ahead.”
Sarkisian had a 34-29 record in five seasons at UW, his first head-coaching job. He was 12-6 at USC.
The Trojans entered this season ranked No. 8 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll and were picked by the media to win the Pac-12 title.
Sarkisian also is in the midst of a divorce from his wife, Stephanie, and he recently sold a palatial house south of Los Angeles. They have three children.
“I think this is a tough job and you just feel bad for the whole situation, for everybody,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “It’s a hard enough job when you’re doing well. And then (when) something doesn’t go right in your situation and then everybody piles on, I think it’s very tough.”
Sarkisian was hired as an offensive assistant at USC by Pete Carroll in 2001.
“It breaks my heart to see how this has gone,” Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle on Monday morning. “But he recognizes it, and he’s going to do something about it. So this is the day the turn occurs. I’m grateful for everybody around him that he’s finally figured it out.”
Carroll said that he has been in touch with Sarkisian and will do whatever he can to help him through the process.
“This isn’t about coaching now, this is about his personal life and getting things in order, and I know he’s committed to taking the right steps to do that,” Carroll said Monday afternoon. “This is hugely important for him.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta also contributed to this report. Content from The Associated Press also was used in this report.