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USC AD, Playoff member Pat Haden fined $25k for arguing with refs

This is not part of the athletic director's job.

USC athletic director Pat Haden, who is not a football coach, hit the sidelines to vigorously interact with referees during the second half of the Trojans' game against Stanford. He is also one of 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Haden later went on ABC to explain, saying he went to meet with head coach Steve Sarkisian about the game's penalties and wants to "move on." He mentioned being summoned to the sideline via text message, which is its own issue.



I can't remember ever seeing an AD play a role in a game, and certainly not one partially responsible for FBS' first-ever postseason tournament. It's uncertain exactly what he's worked up about -- many are speculating it has to do with Hayes Pullard's targeting ejection -- but this is not an acceptable use of the committee member's time.

We knew the committee would have issues, but having one of its members interacting with referees during a major game is beyond what anyone predicted.


Monday, the College Football Playoff issued a statement, saying:

Emotional outbursts at games are not a matter for the playoff selection committee to deal with. This does not affect Pat Haden's capability as a committee member. We recognize that athletic directors cannot be dispassionate about their own teams, and that's why we have the recusal policy.

The Pac-12 announced it has fined Haden $25,000 and responded via statement:

The Pac-12 Conference has reprimanded and fined USC Athletics Director Pat Haden, and reprimanded head football coach Steve Sarkisian for their inappropriate sideline conduct during USC's game at Stanford on Saturday, September 6, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced today.

During the third quarter of Saturday's game, Sarkisian argued with Pac-12 officials during a lengthy and inappropriate exchange about a sideline encroachment penalty. Additionally, Sarkisian asked Haden to join him on the sidelines and to act as an intermediary in dealing with Pac-12 officials. Sarkisian's actions and contact of Haden instigated further confrontation with Pac-12 game officials.

Upon arrival on the sidelines, Haden confronted game officials regarding the management of the game. In addition, Haden conducted a television interview on the sidelines during the game with comments relative to the Pac-12's officiating of the game.

"The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate," said Scott. "Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated."

"The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden were in clear violation of our Conference's Standards of Conduct policy," added Scott. "We appreciate the public apology and recognition of the errors in judgment, as well as Pat Haden's self-imposed 2-game sideline ban. We took this into consideration as we determined the discipline. Nonetheless, the actions fell short of our expectation of our head coaches and athletics directors as role models for our student-athletes and important leaders of our institutions."