The University of Southern California’s football program established in 1888 has been a powerhouse for decades, with almost a dozen national championships and 493 Trojan players taken in the NFL draft, more than any other university.
But their football prowess has been displaced by the scandal related to former head coach Steve Sarkisian and his sudden departure last August. In December 2015 Sarkisian sued the university for wrongful dismissal saying the school “kicked him to the curb” after he allegedly made profane statements in public while in a drunken state. He claims damages of $12 million dollars, maintaining that USC had an obligation to accommodate his “disability.”
However, Sarkisian’s lawsuit was flawed from the outset because when he negotiated his terms of employment he contracted to arbitrate any grievances he may have against the university. Sarkisian’s lawyers were opposed to arbitration alleging their client could not recall signing the contract, and declaring it to be unconscionable and unenforceable.
However, recognizing the futility of persuading a court that the arbitration requirement be ousted, Sarkisian’s attorneys have just consented to abandon their lawsuit and proceed to arbitration.
Given the sensitive nature of the allegations against Sarkisian and a hungry media, he has now avoided the potential embarrassment and humiliating details of his personal battles being bait for a media “feeding frenzy”.
Mr. Sarkisian may not realize it now, but a private and confidential arbitration may save his reputation and allow him to restart his coaching career. It is reported that he successfully completed a rehab program and is looking for new opportunities.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang