At least financially, USC is basking in the glow of its first huge win of 2018.
In December of 2015, it was confirmed that Steve Sarkisian had filed a lawsuit against USC in which he claimed that the university illegally fired him because, in part, they did not accommodate his disability. Specifically, the coach, who had recently finished a stint in rehab, acknowledged at the time that he was an alcoholic and claimed his firing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit, the claims in which the university at the time described as “patently untrue,” was seeking up to $30 million in damages, including $12.6 million from the remainder of his contract as well as nearly $18 million in unspecified damages.
Monday, as TMZ.com reported, “an arbitrator… denied every single one of Sark’s claims — explaining the coach was ‘not terminated on the basis of any disability,’ but rather for misconduct in breach of his contract.” The arbitrator, in denying Sarkisian any type of monetary damages from the university, further stated that California’s disability laws do “not insulate the failure to control a controllable disability nor afford an employee a second chance to control a disability in the future.”
After being placed on an indefinite leave of absence Oct. 11 of 2015, Sarkisian was fired a day later as the Trojans’ head football coach. Sarkisian, who reportedly had a troubling past involving alcohol, checked himself into rehab shortly thereafter, and reportedly learned of his fate with the Trojans via text messages and emails on his way to a treatment center.
Up until Sarkisian’s firing, the coach had steadfastly denied to the university that he was an alcoholic.
“I am disappointed in the decision, but we will respect it and move on,” Sarkisian, now the offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, said in a statement. “Much gratitude to everyone who has shown their support and stood by me.
“The last two years have been trying, but I am in now a great place, healthy, happy and loving my job with the Falcons and have the support of my family and friends and that’s where my focus is and will remain.”
“We are pleased that the arbitration has reached its rightful conclusion and we wish Steve Sarkisian well,” a statement from athletic director Lynn Swann said.