USC Athletic Director Pat Haden’s interaction with football game officials came with a cost.
Haden and Trojans Coach Steve Sarkisian were reprimanded and Haden was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 Conference for “inappropriate sideline conduct” during USC’s 13-10 victory over Stanford on Saturday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.
Sarkisian summoned Haden late in the third quarter after he was called for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Haden, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, jogged to the sideline and had an animated conversation with officials.
Haden’s actions sparked controversy and calls for him to be removed from the position on the committee.
“The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate,” Scott said in a statement. “Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated.”
On Sunday night, Haden issued an apology to Scott, game officials, Stanford and fans “for any distraction I might have caused.” He also said he would stay off the sidelines for two games.
“In retrospect, I should not have approached the game officials,” he said in a statement. “I should have waited until after the game and gone through the appropriate channels.”
Scott acknowledged the apology but still slapped Haden with a fine.
“The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden [was] in clear violation of our Conference’s Standards of Conduct policy,” Scott said in his statement. “We appreciate the public apology and recognition of the errors in judgment, as well as Pat Haden’s self-imposed 2-game sideline ban.
“We took this into consideration as we determined the discipline. Nonetheless, the actions fell short of our expectation of our head coaches and athletics directors as role models for our student-athletes and important leaders of our institutions.”
Haden’s sideline exchange with officials, and the action taken by the Pac-12, will not affect his standing on the playoff selection committee.
“Emotional outbursts at games are not a matter for the playoff committee to deal with,” Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement. “This does not affect Pat Haden’s capability as a committee member. We recognize that athletic directors cannot be dispassionate about their own teams, and that’s why we have the recusal policy.”
By rule, Haden and other committee members must recuse themselves from any conversation about their own team.
Sarkisian said he regretted involving Haden in the situation.
“It is my job to manage the game, not Pat’s,” Sarkisian said in a statement . “For the good of the game, I will be better on this in the future.”
USC, its coaches or administrators have been fined three times for a total of $60,000 since 2011 for violations pertaining to football situations.
Haden announced over Twitter he would pay the fine personally and asked the Pac-12 to forward it to the Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles for autism research in honor of his 5-year-old grandson.