The recent drama surrounding the USC football team took a turn on Thursday morning, when USC’s senior cornerback-turned-running back Anthony Brown quit the football team and used social media to voice his reasoning for doing so, alleging that head coach Steve Sarkisian was a racist.
Brown posted a quote on his Instagram account Thursday morning that read, “COULDN’T PLAY FOR A RACIST MAN!!!!” with the caption “Sark treated me like a slave in his Office…Can’t play for a racist MAN!!!!! #Fighton” The post has since been removed from Brown’s Instagram.
A Facebook post with the same message was posted by Brown and was later removed as well.
Though the news only went public this Thursday, Brown officially quit last Thursday, Aug. 21, according to ESPN.
Sarkisian confirmed this Thursday that Anthony Brown had in fact decided to leave the team. Sarkisian responded to Brown’s comments on his social media accounts with livid shock and disagreement.
“As far as what [Brown] said … I think it’s ridiculous,” Sarkisian told ESPN Los Angeles. “Any of you guys that know me and if you ask anybody in our building, any of our players — feel free to — that’s about the furthest thing from the truth. Quite honestly, I’m shocked.”
Both former and current players of Sarkisian immediately rushed to his defense on social media platforms.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Scott Felix tweeted, “Coach Sark is a great coach and [an] even better person. Accusations like that couldn’t be more untrue. #FightOn.”
Former Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, who played at USC while Sarkisian was an assistant, echoed that same sentiment.
“I know Sark as well as anyone,” Leinart tweeted. “He is the farthest thing from a racist. This is a ridiculous claim!”
Just two days from the start of the 2014-15 season, the news of Brown’s departure from the squad seemingly has very little effect on the roster depth.
Brown, who prepped at Kaiser High School in Fontana, California, was listed as the sixth running back on the depth chart.
During his first few years as a cornerback, Brown accrued 43 tackles in six starts, but had been limited because of injuries to his ankle in 2013.
Sarkisian converted Brown to a running back during fall camp, per Anthony’s request, hoping that accommodating his wishes would both encourage him and provide him with more playing time.
But after hyperextending his elbow during training camp, Brown was discouraged and did not want to keep playing.
“It’s a bit unfortunate because we could have used him,” Sarkisian told ESPN Los Angeles. “We think he could have helped us.”
Sark reiterated that he believed in Brown as “an asset,” but his continued efforts to retain Brown on the squad were in vain.
“I thought he could get healthy … I didn’t want him to quit,” Sarkisian said. “I wanted him to come back and play and he chose not to.”
Brown fired back later that day, though, by providing his side of the story in an interview with Annenberg TV News.
“[He] called me a coward several times,” Brown said. “I never felt like that. Twenty-three years old, and I’ve never been talked to like that … He said a lot of things that put me in a situation where I was belittled, like trash, like I’m nobody.”
The Trojans will start the 2014 season against Fresno State this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. without Brown.