by Garry Paskwietz
USC coach Steve Sarkisian will take an indefinite leave of absence and Clay Helton will take over as interim coach of the team, according to the school.
Sarkisian was not in attendance at the Trojans practice on Sunday afternoon, and USC athletic director Pat Haden met with the media after practice to announce the decision.
“I was at a basketball event earlier today when I got a call to say Sarkisian was not at practice,” Haden said. “I called Steve and he made it clear to me that he was not healthy, and I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence. I think this is the right thing for our team.
“I’ve spoken to our team and our coaches, they obviously had a great deal of concern for the health of coach Sarkisian. It was also clear to me the support that Clay has from the team, and the staff. We’ve got a big task this week with the Notre Dame game, and Clay will do a great job getting our team ready. I don’t have a lot of answers right now for you guys, as I first heard about this an hour and a half ago.”
Sarkisian had a well-publicized incident prior to the season when he appeared intoxicated at a USC season-kickoff event for boosters and fans. He was not disciplined by the school at the time, although Haden had said Sarkisian would be seeking unspecified treatment.
The Trojans 12-6 under Sarkisian since the start of the 2014 season.