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Pac-12 fines USC AD $25K for confronting officials

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The Pac-12 Conference reprimanded and fined Southern California athletic director Pat Haden $25,000 on Monday for coming down to the field at Stanford Stadium and confronting game officials.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement that Haden’s conduct during USC’s 13-10 victory at Stanford on Saturday was inappropriate. Scott said ”such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated.”

The conference also reprimanded USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who said he had requested Haden’s presence on the sideline after a series of penalties left him irate at officials. Haden and Sarkisian apologized for their actions Sunday, and Sarkisian issued an additional statement after the Pac-12 announced its discipline.

”I regret putting Pat in the situation I put him in on Saturday,” Sarkisian said. ”It is my job to manage the game, not Pat’s. For the good of the game, I will be better on this in the future.”

Haden, who is also a member of the new College Football Playoff selection committee, jogged onto the field after getting a text message from a member of USC’s staff – at Sarkisian’s request – to come down to the field. He held an animated discussion with officials between the third and fourth quarters.

Haden is one of five active athletic directors on the playoff committee, which will decide the four teams that will compete for the national title at the end of the season. According to the committee’s recusal policy, Haden is not permitted to take part in any votes involving USC when the committee is ranking teams.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement following the Pac-12’s discipline that Haden’s status on the committee has not changed.

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

The situation unfolded at Stanford after the Trojans had been called for 35 yards in penalties on three plays, including Sarkisian getting whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct and star linebacker Hayes Pullard getting ejected for targeting the head of Stanford’s Ty Montgomery at the end of a punt return.

After his discussion with officials, Haden also told a sideline reporter on the ABC television broadcast that Sarkisian felt the penalty against him was unfair. Sarkisian said following the game that the call against him for leaving the coaching area was correct, although he said he didn’t understand why the officials had interpreted the rule so literally.

But the apologies weren’t enough to appease the Pac-12’s commissioner.

”The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden were in clear violation of our Conference’s Standards of Conduct policy,” Scott said. ”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.”

USC finished the game with 10 penalties for 87 yards. Stanford had eight penalties for 68 yards.

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this story.

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