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USC Head Football Coach Fired After Reports Of Drinking Problem

Steve Sarkisian (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian has been fired from his position amid reports of him drinking on the job.According to a statement from USC athletic director Pat Haden, Steve Sarkisian was terminated today:

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 that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being."

Sarkisian's termination comes one day after he was asked to take a leave of absence after Haden found out that Sarkisian failed to show up at Sunday afternoon's practice. Players also said that Sarkisian was acting weird during a meeting with teammates that morning, the L.A. Times reports.

In August at USC's "Salute to Troy" fundraising event, Sarkisian spoke with slurred speech, added curse words to a school chant and insulted the school's adversaries. After this particular incident, Sarkisian said he did not have a drinking problem, but would seek treatment. He claimed his bizarre behavior was the result of mixing alcohol with some type of medication.

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"The moral of the story is this: when you mix meds with alcohol, you say things or do things you regret," Sarkisian said at the time. He then vowed to quit drinking for the rest of the season.

However, USC players claimed that Sarkisian was acting strange at a meeting on Sunday morning as well as during a recent game against Arizona State. They also claimed that he got so drunk he passed out on a flight home from a Washington State game in 2014, according to the L.A. Times.

It also surfaced that Sarkisian exhibited some strange behavior before getting hired by USC in late 2013. Sarkisian served as head football coach at the University of Washington from 2009 to 2013. Former Huskies players told the Times that Sarkisian occasionally smelled like alcohol, drank in the office, kept alcohol near his desk and occasionally seemed drunk while traveling with the team. A look at his receipts showed excessive alcohol bills, some from before noon.

Former USC coach Pete Carroll, for whom Sarkisian was an assistant prior to his work with the Huskies, said that he's reached out to Sarkisian, according to ESPN. "It breaks my heart to see how this has gone, but he recognizes it and he's going to do something about it, so this is the day the turn occurs," Carroll said. "...This is a big battle and we'll pull for him all the way."