USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said Monday night that he consulted with medical professionals and trusted members of his staff before deciding a course of action for Steve Sarkisian after the Trojans coach’s embarrassing behavior at a preseason booster event.
Sarkisian has said he mixed alcohol and unspecified “meds” before appearing in stage at USC’s annual “Salute to Troy” event on campus on Aug. 22. He apologized and said last week he would seek counseling to find out if he had a drinking problem. He will coach the Trojans in their opener Saturday.
“I understand a lot of people are going to disagree with my decision — it happens all the time,” Haden said during USC’s ‘Trojans Live’ radio show. “I believe the course of action we chose was really in the best interest of USC and Steve Sarkisian and maybe just an important, or more importantly, our players.”
Haden did not address if any other possible courses of action were considered.
Haden said “a lot of careful thought was given” before his decision was made and that he had “thoughtful conversations” with medical professionals and others “so we could draw up a confidential plan.”
He said the counseling part of Sarkisian’s treatment had “started off well, from what he’s told me.”
Haden said his aim was to “represent the university the best way I can and not embarrass it.”
Haden was reprimanded and fined last season after he went onto the field at Stanford to speak with officials. Haden had been summoned by Sarkisian.
“We’ve had some glitches, myself included,” he said, adding, “Every decision I’ve made, like I said, even though a lot people disagree with them, I do try to give it a great deal of thought in what’s in the interest of USC.”
Haden said he was not involved in Sarkisian’s decision to relinquish play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Clay Helton.
Haden said USC’s renovation plan for the Coliseum has not yet been approved by USC’s board of trustees. But he said he believed one, and possibly two NFL teams, would be in Los Angeles for the 2016 season and that the Coliseum could be a temporary home for one while it builds a stadium.
Zach Banner will be USC’s right tackle for the second consecutive season, and the 6-foot-9 junior has big plans.
Banner said he spent the off-season studying film of NFL players such as Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith — a 2011 first-round pick out of USC — and Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Klady.
Banner, the son of former NFL lineman Lincoln Kennedy, said he was not thinking about the 2016 NFL draft.
“I want to be an All-American here,” he said during training camp. “I want to win a national championship.”
After last season, Banner put NFL aspirations on hold while considering his options. He was draft-eligible as a third-year sophomore.
“I don’t want to be a second to sixth-round pick,” he said. “I don’t even want to be a first round. I want to be the No. 1 overall pick.”
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