Steve Sarkisian has filed a $30 million law suit against the University of Southern California for firing him as its football coach in October.
The suit, obtained by TMZ Sports, claims that Sarkisian was fired because of his drinking problems, which was illegal since alcoholism is protected as a disease.
“Alcoholism is a recognized disability under California law,” said Sarkisian attorney Alan Loewinsohn. “So firing somebody because of that disability is against the law.”
Sarkisian compiled a 12-6 record before being fired, shortly after reportedly showing up to a team meeting while intoxicated. He also had an issue at a meeting with boosters in August, and players from his previous coaching stop at Washington said they could smell alcohol on his breath.
He asked USC athletic director Pat Haden for a leave of absence after the October incident, and one was granted, but he was fired after more details came to light. The lawsuit is built around that, saying that USC did not “make the reasonable accomodation of giving Steve Sarkisian time off to get help for his disability and then return to his job.”
Clay Helton took over as interim coach and led the Trojans to the Pac-12 championship game and a Holiday Bowl match-up with Wisconsin. He was named as Sarkisian’s permanent replacement last week.