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Coach Sarkisian Apologizes, Admits to Mixing Meds and Alcohol

Paolo Uggetti |
August 26, 2015 | 12:59 p.m. PDT

Sports Editor

(Via Connor McGlynn)

After a weekend of controversy and heavy media coverage, USC Football Head Coach Steve Sarkisian apologized Tuesday morning and admitted he took medications with alcohol, which led to his behavior at the team’s annual booster event — Salute to Troy — Saturday night.

“I’d like to apologize for my behavior Saturday night. It was inappropriate, I feel bad for the University of Southern California, I feel bad for [USC President] Max Nikias, [Athletic Director] Pat Haden,” opened Sarkisian. “The way I acted was irresponsible.”

According to multiple reports and video acquired by ESPN, Sarkisian was apparently intoxicated at the function and used an expletive when saying “Get ready to f****’n fight on!” during his speech, which occurred only a few hours after wrapping up the team’s final fall practice.

In his slurred speech, Sarkisian also reportedly referenced Oregon, Arizona St., and Notre Dame when speaking of the team’s schedule, following it up by saying “They all suck!” Attendees say that other inappropriate remarks were also made before Sarkisian was pulled off the stage by Athletic Director Pat Haden.

On Tuesday morning before the team’s first in-school practice, a contrite Sarkisian admitted that he was in the wrong, apologizing to players, donors, his children and even the media. Yet he was adamant that it was the mixing of the medication that caused his apparent intoxication — not a drinking problem.

“I took medication, I mixed it with alcohol — not a lot fortunately — I responded in a way that was not acceptable for me or the university.” he explained.

However, he did not identify the specific meds: “When it comes to what medication I’m taking I think that’s an issue that really should remain privately.”

When pressed and asked if he believed he had a drinking problem, Sark said: “No, I don’t believe so, but through Pat [Haden] and through the university, I’m going to find that out.”

Though the statement alluded to some kind of rehabilitation component, Sark did not say that would necessarily be the case.

“I don’t know if I even need rehab, that’s part of the process.”

Sarkisian said Haden has set up “meetings” for him to figure out if indeed he does need some form of treatment, and kept reiterating the importance of moving on throughout the news conference.

“I made a mistake,” Sarkisian says he told his team. “But I’m going to move forward, and we’re going to be great.”

Sarkisian said he “was not proud” of the incident, that he had already met with the team’s leadership committee and that he had disclosed all information about the incident to the entire team.

“He came to us as a man, apologized and looked us in the face, told us some stuff, and that’s hard to do,” QB Cody Kessler said afterward. “But at the end of the day, I think he earned more respect from us and the team, and I think it brought us closer together.”

Kessler said as the incident occurred, they all knew something was wrong, but that they respected how Sarkisian “didn’t try to hide it” afterward.

“We’ve moved on, at the end of the day we love him, we’re going to support him 100%,” explained LB Su’A Cravens. “We’re the same team, before and after the fact, nothing has changed.”

(Via Connor McGlyynn)

Though no suspension or further punishment will be enacted, both the players and Sarkisian said there was some form of it on Monday. The leadership committee, says Kessler, instituted “hard lessons” on Sarkisian. Those hard lessons apparently consist of up-downs when players are punished, which Sark admitted to doing, saying he deserved it.

As far as the report that alcohol was present in the Trojans’ locker room, Sarkisian says there was never any in the players’ locker room — only in the coaches’ — but that it would never be inside any locker room going forward.

“There are some people that are going to agree with what I say, there are some people that are going to disagree with what I say. But the reality of it is, I’ve got unbelievable support here. I’ve got a great team, I’ve got unbelievable leaders here, and a great coaching staff and I’m thankful for that and I’ll move forward.”

You can reach Sports Editor Paolo Uggetti here, or follow him on Twitter @PaoloUggetti

Video by Connor McGlynn, Storify by Jackson Safon.



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