It’s one thing to get fired in the midst of a personal crisis. It’s another thing entirely to be unceremoniously dumped in about the most impersonal way possible.
Sunday, USC announced that Steve Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues. According to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, athletic director Pat Haden attempted to phone Sarkisian to inform him of the decision to part ways but the coach didn’t answer as he was on a plane en route to an out-of-state treatment facility.
Instead of being told first-hand, Schad wrote, “Sarkisian learned he had been fired when he read an e-mail and text messages from friends expressing sympathy.”
Haden said he made multiple attempts to reach Sarkisian and those close to him, but was unable to make a connection. A letter was then sent to Sarkisian and his agent notifying them of the termination.
“I called him, I texted him, I called three different numbers of his agent, I called his sister,” Haden said. “I finally got ahold of his brother-in-law.”
The 41-year-old Sarkisian is expected to spend at least 30 days in the unspecified treatment facility.
Additionally, it’s being reported that Sarkisian was fired by USC for cause. If that holds up, it means the university wouldn’t owe Sarkisian whatever is left on his five-year contract. It’s believed Sarkisian earned at least $3.5 million per season, meaning the school could save in excess of $10 million as there were three-plus years remaining on Sarkisian’s deal. From ESPN.com:
A school source told ESPN’s Shelley Smith that Haden had instituted what was, in effect, a zero-tolerance policy concerning alcohol use with Sarkisian. When Sarkisian showed up to meetings Sunday seemingly intoxicated, that was a violation of the agreement, and it resulted in Sarkisian’s dismissal.
The Big Lead writes that “[t]he Americans With Disabilities Act, which provides protection from employers firing employees due to an illness, apparently wouldn’t cover Sarkisian in this instance.”