LOS ANGELES – Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian apologized Sunday for his behavior and profane language at a team event the night before.
Sarkisian issued a written apology on the school’s official website the morning after the Salute to Troy, a reception held before each season for the football team, alumni and athletic program donors.
Several people who attended the event Saturday night took to Twitter afterward to say that the second-year Trojans coach appeared to be drunk while using profanities in praising his team. Sarkisian also apparently disparaged several of the Trojans’ Pac-12 rivals and ended his comments with a profane version of USC’s “Fight On” slogan.
“I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night,” Sarkisian said in the statement. “I have a responsibility to all of them and I let them down.”
Athletic director Pat Haden said he spoke to Sarkisian privately about his behavior in the latest embarrassment for a program with a long history of unusual happenings on and off the field.
“I met with Coach Sarkisian, and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the university at our Salute to Troy event,” said Haden, who hired Sarkisian in December 2013. “While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear.”
Sarkisian went 9-4 last season in the Trojans’ final year under heavy NCAA sanctions. USC is ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25 released Sunday, and the Trojans were picked to win the Pac-12 in the conference’s preseason media poll last month.
Sarkisian, the former University of Washington head coach, also served three stints as a Trojans assistant under Pete Carroll. A Los Angeles-area native, Sarkisian briefly played baseball at USC before becoming a quarterback at BYU.
The Trojans are off Sunday and Monday while school begins at USC. They return to practice Tuesday, and their season opener is Sept. 5 at the Coliseum against Arkansas State.
A year ago, USC defensive back Josh Shaw badly injured both of his ankles while jumping off a balcony on the night after the Salute to Troy. Shaw initially concocted a fake story about his injuries, and USC suspended him for nearly the entire season.