USC Sports

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian says he can balance work and possible treatment

Steve Sarkisian

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian watches players during practice on Tuesday after speaking to the media about his behavior at a kickoff event on campus over the weekend.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian still isn’t offering details about what treatment he might receive in the wake of his outburst at a campus booster function last weekend, and he hasn’t explained how he plans to fit it into his already busy schedule as the Trojans prepare for their Sept. 5 football opener against Arkansas State at the Coliseum.

But he is confident it can be done, and hopeful that it is good for him.

“I’m taking it as a positive,” he said Thursday after a practice at the Coliseum. “Sometimes it’s good to self-reflect. Sometimes it’s good to be able to open up a Bible and read, quite honestly. So I don’t take it on as a negative or, ‘What am I going to do with my time now?’

“It’s more of a ‘This is probably good.’ And as I can figure it out maybe it will be good for a lot of other people as well.”


Sarkisian, apparently intoxicated, caused a furor on Saturday during USC’s annual “Salute to Troy” event when, while talking on stage, he slurred his words, insulted opposing teams and preceded the school’s rallying cry, “Fight On!” with an expletive.

The coach apologized in an online statement Sunday and during a news conference before the Trojans practiced Tuesday morning, when he attributed his actions to mixing alcohol with “meds” that he declined to identify.

Sarkisian said he didn’t believe he had a drinking problem, but he acknowledged that he had agreed to enter a treatment program to find out.

On Wednesday night, the Seattle Times reported that Sarkisian was reimbursed $1,023 by the University of Washington for alcohol as part of two group retreats in California in 2012 and 2013. Sarkisian was Washington’s head football coach from 2009 to 2013, before he was hired by USC.


A Washington athletic department spokesman told the newspaper they were legitimate expenses.

Sarkisian said Thursday he was aware of the report.

“It was something that had to do with coaches, wives, administrators,” he said. “As the head coach of a football program, I don’t feel bad for paying for a receipt with people that are there with us. ... There are a lot of things that could get detailed positively out of that and/or negatively, quite honestly, I guess, but the reality of it is, I was the head coach and I took the receipt and I don’t feel bad about eating dinner and having a good time. There weren’t people drinking and driving.

“It’s unfortunate that that is the focus of the time that was spent because there was a lot of really quality dialogue that took place in that weekend.”

Sarkisian said he was aware that other stories could appear but he was not concerned they would become distraction for the Trojans, who are ranked eighth in the Associated Press media poll and 10th in the coaches’ poll.

“I’m not as concerned about one thing being a distraction, there’s a million things it could be,” he said. “It’s what are we doing every week to make sure we’re focused and detail-oriented so that we can go out and play our best football.”

Sarkisian said he felt supported by Trojans players.

“My relationship with them, if anything, has gotten closer and better than anything else,” he said.


USC’s practice schedule this week mirrors its schedule during game weeks. Players were not made available to the media Thursday.

Quick hits

After 11 practices at cornerback and six at receiver, sophomore Adoree’ Jackson spent most of the week mainly playing cornerback while also mixing in with the offense. Jackson is set to start at cornerback opposite senior Kevon Seymour. ... The Trojans practiced at the Coliseum for the first time since last spring. After the Special Olympics, the stadium turf was replaced. The Trojans are scheduled to conduct a mock game Saturday at the Coliseum. ... Freshman safety Ykili Ross has been sidelined this week because of a shoulder injury. When physically sound, Sarkisian said, Ross could contribute on defense and special teams.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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