AD Pat Haden: Discipline of Steve Sarkisian 'in best interest of USC'

— -- Speaking publicly for the first time since Steve Sarkisian's erratic display at a recent school event, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said Monday that his decision regarding the  Trojans coach was "in the best interest" of the university and its players.

Haden condemned Sarkisian's behavior in a statement but ultimately decided not to suspend him. Sarkisian will coach USC in its season opener Saturday against  Arkansas State.

During an appearance on the "Trojans Live" radio show on ESPN Los Angeles 710, Haden said he had "thoughtful conversations" with medical professionals and staff members and that "a lot of careful thought was given" before deciding on a course of action for Sarkisian following the now-infamous incident at the school's annual "Salute to Troy" event on Aug. 22.

According to sources, Sarkisian was intoxicated, used foul language and insulted other programs during the preseason booster event, which was held on campus. He later apologized and said that a mixture of medication and alcohol was at least partially to blame for his behavior, and that he would seek help.

Asked whether he has a drinking problem, Sarkisian replied: "No, I don't believe so, but through [Haden] and through the university, I'm going to find that out. I'm going to go to treatment."

Haden said Sarkisian told him the counseling portion of his treatment has "started off well."

"I understand a lot of people are going to disagree with my decision -- it happens all the time," Haden told the station. "I believe the course of action we chose was really in the best interest of USC and Steve Sarkisian and maybe just as important, or more importantly, our players."

Haden said he was not involved in Sarkisian's decision to relinquish play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Clay Helton.

"Those aren't my kind of decisions to be made," Haden said. "They've been talking about it for a while. Clay has been intimately involved in play calling [during his career].

"He's a very innovative coach. I think we'll be balanced, which I like. And I think it gives Steve a chance to do a lot more. ... I think it's great for Clay, and I really think it's good for Steve, too."

Information from's Kyle Bonagura and Kevin Gemmell was used in this report.