Three days after reportedly speaking while intoxicated at USC’s annual Salute to Troy event, head football coach Steve Sarkisian publicly apologized to the media on Tuesday morning before practice in a press conference at Howard Jones Field.
“I’d like to apologize for my behavior Saturday night,” Sarkisian said. “It was inappropriate. I feel bad for the University of Southern California, [President] Max Nikias, [Athletic Director] Pat Haden, our players and my own kids. The way I acted was irresponsible. It is something I obviously don’t condone.”
Sarkisian reportedly used foul language and called out other programs at the on-campus event Saturday night in front of donors and alumni before being taken off stage by Haden and Associate Athletic Director J.K. McKay.
The 41-year-old head coach admitted he mixed unspecified medication with alcohol and indicated that he will seek treatment, although he does not believe he needs to attend rehab.
“I truly believe in myself as a coach to lead this team and to be the best coach for this team to win a championship,” Sarkisian said. “I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by wonderful people, and that this university can offer no better support than any other university in the country, but I was not right.”
Sarkisian admitted that there was alcohol in the coaches’ locker room “after great wins,” but maintained that there has never been alcohol in the team’s players’ locker room. Alcohol has been banned from the facility entirely, according to Sarkisian.
“I don’t believe so,” Sarkisian said when asked if he had a drinking problem. “Through Pat and the University, I’m going to find that out. I’m going to go to treatment and deal with it.”
The second-year head coach said he met with the team and disclosed everything. He also said reached out to Nikias and talked at great length with Haden.
“At the end of the day, you play the hand you’re dealt,” Sarkisian said. “I’m going to play my hand. I’m not proud of the things that have occurred for me, but I know I’m a good football coach, and I know we’re a good football team.”
Two of the team’s leaders, quarterback Cody Kessler and linebacker Su’a Cravens, also showed support for their coach following his press conference.
“He came to us as a man and looked us in the face and apologized, and I think this brought us closer together,” Kessler said.
Sarkisian’s acts didn’t go unpunished, though, as Kessler said the team made him do up-downs on Monday.
“He came back drenched in sweat,” Kessler said.
Following the press conference, the team got back on the field for its first practice of the week as it now tries to shift the attention back to football on the field.