USC coach Steve Sarkisian taking leave of absence

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USC football Coach Steve Sarkisian is seen at an Aug. 25, 2015, press conference where he discussed a controversial, slurred speech he delivered the weekend prior at a campus event. (Credit: KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – USC head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an “indefinite leave” from the football team, the university’s Athletic Director Pat Haden announced on Sunday.

Clay Helton, the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will take over as the interim coach, USC stated.

Sarkisian was not at the team’s practice early Sunday afternoon, prompting a phone call from the athletic director once he learned of the situation, KTLA reported.

Based on the conversation, “It was very clear to me that he is not healthy,” Haden told reporters at a brief news conference. “I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”

When asked by a reporter to specify what led to the determination that Sarkisian was not fit to continue coaching, Haden responded, “It was apparent,” but did not elaborate.

Sarkisian came under fire before the season even started for his erratic behavior at the “Salute to Troy” kickoff event, where he slurred words, used an expletive, and told the crowd of athletic supporters that several opponents “sucked.”

He apologized the following day.

Read more at KTLA.