Former Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian was reimbursed $1,023 by UW for alcohol as part of two group outings in 2012 and 2013 for what an athletic department spokesman says were legitimate expenses.
Sarkisian, now at USC, had to apologize Tuesday for his behavior at a Trojan booster event and blamed it on combining alcohol and medication.
Copies of Sarkisian’s UW expense reports show that coaches and spouses on a UW retreat in California, “Dawg Days in the Desert,” ran up a $500.30 tab for alcohol, including 45 shots of tequila, at Don Diego’s in March 2012. It’s not clear how big his party was, but a year later at the same coaches’ retreat, Sarkisian and crew returned to the same restaurant as a group of 16.
At the second dinner, the group racked up a bigger drink tab, $522.80, with 46 shots of tequila.
Sarkisian was reimbursed from a UW discretionary account, and reviewed by a senior athletic director, athletic department spokesman Carter Henderson said.
“Coaches, staff and administrators occasionally buy food and beverages for large groups and submit receipts for reimbursement of expenses occurred during development-related trips or functions, such as this case,” Henderson said in a statement emailed to The Seattle Times.
Sarkisian, in his second season at USC, said Tuesday that he will seek unspecified treatment for alcohol, but he doesn’t believe he has a drinking problem. He attributed his profane language and slurred speech at a booster event Saturday night to a combination of alcohol and medication.
He said he would not drink this season. USC has also banned alcohol from the coaches’ football offices and coaches’ dressing room.
During Sarkisian’s tenure at UW, from 2009 to 2013, the athletic department did not have a policy on alcohol in the coaches’ locker room, Henderson said. Although UW athletics still doesn’t have a policy, he added, “We do have the expectation that athletics staff will conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.”
The Huskies’ current coaching staff, under Chris Petersen, does not have any alcohol in their dressing room, Henderson said.
Asked if athletic department officials suspected alcohol might have affected Sarkisian’s job performance at UW, Henderson said no.