Report: Sarkisian learned of firing via email, texts from friends

As of Tuesday, USC athletic director Pat Haden said he still had not spoken directly to former Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian, whom Haden fired on Monday.

Late Tuesday, word spread of how Sarkisian found out about his firing.

Sarkisian learned of his dismissal from an email and texts from friends, ESPN's Joe Schad reports. The coach could not answer phone calls when Haden tried to reach him on Monday because he was on a plane as he traveled to an out-of-state treatment facility, per Schad.

USC fired Sarkisian for cause, according to Schad, indicating that the school thinks it won't have to pay him for the remainder of his contract, which extended through the 2018 season. ESPN reported that Haden has instituted a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol use with Sarkisian, who had an embarrassing display at a USC preseason rally. He attributed his behavior to mixing alcohol with medication and denied that he had a drinking problem.

Haden on Tuesday defended his hiring and firing of Sarkisian, saying he sent a termination letter to the coach on Monday after he was unable to contact him. Sarkisian was placed on a leave of absence on Sunday after Haden said he determined that Sarkisian "was not healthy." He said he then looked further into the matter and decided to fire him.

"I was able to gather facts and determine that Steve's conduct did not meet USC standards and expectations of a head coach," Haden said, per The Associated Press. "He knew those expectations and failed to meet them, so we made a decision in the best interest of our student-athletes, and that was to terminate Steve."

USC can't comment on Sarkisian's illness due to HIPAA rules.

While the Los Angeles Times this week documented Sarkisian's alleged alcohol use as head coach at Washington -- the job he held previous to being hired at USC -- Haden has said Sarkisian passed a background check before he was hired. USC's president issued a statement of support for Haden earlier this week, saying he looked forward to working with Haden for many years to come.

All in all, this is a messy, sad situation and it has the potential to get uglier.

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