USC Responds to Steve Sarkisian's Wrongful-Termination Lawsuit

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2016

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, Southern California NCAA college football head coach Steve Sarkisian speaks to members of the media before practice on the campus in Los Angeles. USC fired Sarkisian one day after the troubled coach was put on leave. Athletic director Pat Haden announced his decision Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in a brief statement. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Nick Ut/Associated Press

The USC Trojans filed a response to former head football coach Steve Sarkisian's wrongful-termination lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan. 6, according to's Kyle Bonagura

Sarkisian is reportedly seeking $30 million after USC fired him despite having prior knowledge of his alcoholism, but the school's official response characterized the former head coach's claims as "half-truths and, in many cases, outright falsehoods," per Bonagura.

The response proceeds as follows, based on documents that obtained: 

It is absolutely false that Sarkisian ever admitted to having a drinking problem, to being an alcoholic or to needing to seek treatment. The truth is he denied ever having a drinking problem, but blamed his inability to perform the essential functions of his job on marital stress, lack of sleep and anxiety for which he was taking medication.

Sarkisian was fired in mid-October after the school asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence. At the time, athletic director Pat Haden told reporters it was "clear to me that he was not healthy," per

Shortly before the school fired Sarkisian, an unnamed USC player told that Sarkisian "showed up lit to meetings again today," while another source said the coach "appeared not normal" when he arrived for a practice. 

While Sarkisian—who is now sober, according to the lawsuitis seeking a hefty sum, Bonagura reported the school is disputing the $30 million figure since the two sides agreed to settle terminations through an arbitration process when he signed his contract in 2013. 

Although the two sides are engaged in a legal battle, Sarkisian appears focused on making a return to the sidelines. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Sarkisian has done some exploratory work regarding possible employment as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator in the NFL. 

With a resume that includes a stint as the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach, Sarkisian is a compelling—and riskycandidate for teams that are piecing together fresh staffs for the 2016 season.