Pac-12 to Investigate Pat Haden Sideline Incident in USC-Stanford Game

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2014

USA Today

Updates from Monday, Sept. 8

ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy reported on a punishment for Pat Haden following his actions during the USC-Stanford game this past weekend:

The Pac-12 later confirmed the fine in a release with comments from conference commissioner Larry Scott:

The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate. Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated.

The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden were in clear violation of our Conference’s Standards of Conduct policy. 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. 

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 7

A day after Pat Haden appeared on the sideline to express his displeasure with a call, he released a statement via the USC Trojans official website:

I apologize to Commissioner Scott, to the game officials, to Stanford and to the fans for any distraction I might have caused during Saturday's football game.  In retrospect, I should not have approached the game officials.  I should have waited until after the game and gone through the appropriate channels.  

In the best interests of our team and our coaches, I will stay off the sidelines for our next two games.

 

Original Text

Pat Haden's trip to the sideline during USC's 13-10 win over Stanford may come at a steep cost. Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reported that the Pac-12 will take a deeper look at an incident involving the Trojans athletic director and game officials:

The Pac-12 will review the incident in which USC athletic director Pat Haden engaged with officials on the sidelines during his program's 13-10 victory at Stanford on Saturday. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the league will be "reviewing the situation" in a text message to SI.com. 

A Pac-12 spokesman said the league will not comment further until it reviews the situation with officials, which is in accordance with league protocol.

You can see video of the incident here, via The Big Lead's Michael Shamburger.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian explained after the game that he had wanted Haden to come down to the field to discuss an issue with the referees because he was afraid of incurring further punishment. Sarkisian had already been penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sep 6, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; USC Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian reacts after the Stanford Cardinal missed a field goal attempt in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Cardinal 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA T
USA TODAY Sports

"I didn't feel like I was in position to continue to discuss that with the officiating crew in risk of getting a second penalty," he said, via Thamel. "I felt I was better off getting Pat in between, talk it through to make sure everybody understood and moved on."

Many were surprised and appalled that Haden would actually cross what is the accepted line for ADs during game action—inserting himself or herself unprompted in the game itself. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk believes that both the NCAA and Pac-12 should bring the hammer down on Haden:

What adds another layer of intrigue to the situation is that Haden is a member of the panel that selects the four teams in the postseason playoff, per Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer:

USA Today's Dan Wolken argued that Haden should lose his place on the selection committee:

The 13 people selected to pick the participants in college football's first playoff were done so because of their integrity, their ability to be impartial and their level-headedness in a high-pressure job with tremendous public scrutiny.

An athletics director running down to argue penalties and making a spectacle of himself on national television does not exactly scream impartiality and level-headedness.

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel took a different view, feeling that Haden's outburst doesn't speak to his ability to accurately judge a team's playoff credentials:

The outcome of the Pac-12's review will likely have a large say on whether Haden's place on the committee is truly under threat.

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