Apologetic USC coach Steve Sarkisian said he mixed alcohol, medicine at event

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California football coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday that a mixture of medication and alcohol was at least partially to blame for his inappropriate behavior at the school's Salute to Troy event Saturday night and that he would seek help.

"I took medication. I mixed it with alcohol," Sarkisian said. "[Not a lot], and I responded in a way that was not acceptable for me or the university."

Sarkisian slurred his words and used profanity as he addressed a crowd of an estimated 2,500 people, which included his players, the coaching staff, past players, fans and donors.

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

"I'm going to deal with it."

Sarkisian said he will not drink alcohol for the remainder of the season and has banned alcohol from the coaches' locker room. A source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that the ban was a mutual decision between Sarkisian and Haden.

In the past, Sarkisian said, coaches would celebrate "after great wins," and noted it's a practice he doesn't believe strays far from the norm at other organizations or college football programs.

He also stressed there has never been alcohol allowed in the players' locker room.

"But there won't be alcohol in our building ever again," Sarkisian said.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler, speaking on behalf of the team, voiced his support shortly after Sarkisian addressed the media for the first time since Saturday's event.

"Bottom line for us is that's our head coach. We're going to support him no matter what," Kessler said. "Mistakes happen. Stuff happens. But at the end of the day, we've moved on. We've put it past us.

"He came to us as a man, apologized, looked us in the face, told us some things -- and that's hard to do. At the end of the day, he earned more respect from us as a team, and I think it brought us closer together."

Kessler said that at Saturday's event, players "knew something wasn't right because we know how he is in a normal state."

It is unclear whether Sarkisian was, or will be, punished by the university, but the team's leadership committee, made up of players, determined an appropriate punishment was for the coach to go through a standard physical regiment, including up-downs, which is also used to discipline players.

In a statement released Sunday, Haden condemned Sarkisian's behavior: "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. While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear."

After finishing 9-4 in Sarkisian's first season as coach, USC was voted No. 8 in the Associated Press' preseason poll. The Trojans were also tabbed as the favorite to win the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll.