Former football coach Steve Sarkisian loses $30 million lawsuit against USC

Former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian lost in his $30 million wrongful termination suit against the University.

Before the fall · Sarkisian heads a USC football practice before he was released after multiple incidents related to his alcohol problems | Daily Trojan file photo

Earlier this week, an arbitration hearing held in Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled against Sarkisian, the current Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator. He has since said he will no longer pursue the matter.

“I am disappointed in the decision, but we will respect it and move on,” said Sarkisian in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sarkisian was terminated by USC in 2015 after repeated instances of drunken behavior. Prior to the 2015 season, he was caught on video slurring his words and saying multiple expletives at a booster event. Later in the season, he was allegedly intoxicated during various team meetings, practices and even games.

Former Athletic Director Pat Haden fired Sarkisian in October 2015, naming Clay Helton as the interim head coach.

In his lawsuit, Sarkisian alleged that USC did not allow him time to undergo treatment for alcoholism, prior to his ouster. He said he was going through a divorce at the time.

“Instead of supporting its head coach, Steve Sarkisian, when he needed its help the most, USC kicked him to the curb,” read his complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court a couple of months after his termination.

In the case, Sarkisian aimed to receive the outlying $12.6 million from his original contract. He sued USC on the basis he was fired over a disability. However, those allegations were shot down in the arbitration hearing. Per Deadspin, the hearing concluded that he was terminated over his detrimental behavior related to alcoholism, ruling it a “failure to control a controllable disability.”

“We are pleased that the arbitration has reached its rightful conclusion and we wish Steve Sarkisian well,” USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann said in a statement.

After his exit from USC, Sarkisian was hired as an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2016. He coached their offense in the 2017 National Championship game. He is entering his second season as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator.

Prior to his short-lived tenure as Trojans’ head coach, Sarkisian was head coach at Washington from 2009-13. He has a long history with USC, also working as an assistant under Pete Carroll from 2001-2008.

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