USC Coach Says Medication, Alcohol Led to ‘Inappropriate' Behavior at Team Event

The second-year Trojans football coach issued an apology on the school's official website the morning after the Salute to Troy

Southern California football coach Steve Sarkisian says a mixture of medication and alcohol led to his profanity laced speech and "inappropriate" behavior at a team event over the weekend.

At a news conference before Tuesday morning's practice, the second-year coach again apologized for his behavior at the Salute to Troy, a reception held before each season for the football team, alumni and athletic program donors. Several people who attended the event Saturday night tweeted that the Trojans coach appeared to be drunk while using profanities in praising his team.

Sarkisian also apparently disparaged several of the Trojans' Pac-12 rivals and ended his comments with a profane version of USC's "Fight On" slogan.

"The moral of the story is this. When you mix meds with alcohol sometimes you say things or do things you regret," Sarkisian said. "I'd like to apologize for my behavior Saturday night. It was inappropriate. I feel bad for the University of Southern California.

"The way I acted was irresponsible and something that I, obviously, don't condone. There are things we're going to work on for me, moving forward."

Sarkisian refused to say what type of medication he ingested.

"That's an issue that really should remain private," Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian said he plans to seek treatment and pledged to avoid alcohol during the upcoming college football season.

"He apologized to us as a man," quarterback Cody Kessler said. "He earned more respect. It brought us closer together as a team. We support him 100 percent."


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The news conference came after a written apology issued the day after the Salute to Troy that was posted on the university's website.

"I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night," Sarkisian said in the statement. "I have a responsibility to all of them and I let them down."

Athletic director Pat Haden said he spoke to Sarkisian privately about his behavior in the latest embarrassment for a program with a long history of unusual happenings on and off the field.

"I met with Coach Sarkisian and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the university at our Salute To Troy event," said Haden, who hired Sarkisian in December 2013. "While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear."

Sarkisian went 9-4 last season in the Trojans' final year under heavy NCAA sanctions. USC is ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25 released Sunday, and the Trojans were picked to win the Pac-12 in the conference's preseason media poll last month.

Sarkisian, the former University of Washington head coach, also served three stints as a Trojans assistant under Pete Carroll. A Los Angeles-area native, Sarkisian briefly played baseball at USC before becoming a quarterback at BYU.

The Trojans were off Sunday and Monday while school began at USC. They return to practice Tuesday, and their season opener is Sept. 5 at the Coliseum against Arkansas State.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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