LOS ANGELES – Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian is taking an indefinite leave of absence after athletic director Pat Haden determined that the troubled coach is "not healthy."
Haden an- nounced the decision in a hastily called news conference Sunday after Sarkisian didn't show up for practice.
"I think it's the right thing for our team, and I've always got to do what's right for our team and for our school," Haden said.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take charge of the Trojans (3-2, 1-2 Pac-12), who have lost two of their past three games. USC visits No. 14 Notre Dame (5-1) on Saturday.
Haden wasn't specific about the reasons for Sarkisian's absence, only saying that "it was very clear to me" that the second-year USC coach was unwell. Haden asked Sarkisian to take a leave during a phone conversation.
Sarkisian publicly apologized before the season after he appeared to be intoxicated while making an unsteady public statement at the Salute to Troy pep rally. He announced he would be getting unspecified treatment, but didn't believe he had a drinking problem, blaming his appearance on combining alcohol and medication.
Sarkisian is 12-6 during his short tenure leading the talented Trojans, who were dropped from the AP Top 25 after losing 17-12 to unranked Washington on Thursday. Sarkisian had been on the road recruiting during the long weekend, but apparently wasn't in condition to lead practice Sunday, according to Haden.