The outflow of support and sympathy for Sarkisian, who had been plagued of late by apparent substance-related circumstances,was widespread Monday.
USC players, who were said to be shocked and worried Sunday after seeing the condition Sarkisian was in at the team facilities, were told of his firing by position coaches Monday afternoon, before a statement was released to the media.
Players were later seen going about their normal campus routines, in and out of the football building, on a relatively quiet day on which there were no scheduled practices.
"We are fine," a player who wished to not be identified told ESPN's Holly Rowe. "Just trying to keep our heads up."
Another player said the team had been instructed not to talk to media, with seven satellite TV trucks and news vans parked outside the McKay athletic building.
As players, friends and former colleagues, including Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, expressed concern and sympathy, a source close to Sarkisian said he was "grateful for all the support that will help him get through this difficult time," according to SB Nation.
"Steve Sarkisian is aware of the termination and is deeply disappointed," the source said, according to SB Nation. "But right now his No. 1 priority is getting himself well. To that end, he has checked himself into a residential treatment facility."
Sarkisian was fired by the school Monday, a day after he was asked to take an indefinite leave.
A source within the USC athletic program told ESPN's Shelley Smith that Trojans athletic director Pat Haden had instituted what amounted to a zero-tolerance policy regarding alcohol use with Sarkisian, which is what allowed him to fire the coach. The source said an employee can't be fired for being sick or having an illness, but the guidelines Haden set up for Sarkisian made it clear it could not happen again, thus a fireable offense.
Because of HIPAA rules, the school cannot talk about the nature of Sarkisian's illness.
A source in a meeting with players Sunday told ESPN's Rowe the mood in the room was initially one of shock and sadness over Sarkisian's condition. But players were encouraged by the naming of offensive coordinator Clay Helton as interim coach and are ready to support and rally around him, the source said.
The parent of one player told ESPN the team was forging ahead while hoping for the best outcome for Sarkisian.
"Their basic attitude is they have to get back to work," said the parent, who also wished to not be identified.
The parent said the players were fully behind Helton, who is in his sixth season on USC's coaching staff, having served three years as the quarterbacks coach and three as offensive coordinator.
"These boys have been through so much. It is hard to watch everything unfold," the parent said. "We have a close-knit parent group, and we will not panic. We are learning from our kids. We keep waiting for them to fall apart, but they haven't."
Carroll, under whom Sarkisian worked at USC before he was hired as the head coach at Washington, spoke Monday about his former assistant coach andtold 710 ESPN Seattlethat Sarkisian's situation "breaks my heart."
Carroll also said he had reached out to Sarkisian.
"But he recognizes it, and he's going to do something about it, so this is the day the turn occurs," Carroll said before the firing was announced. "I'm grateful for everybody around him that he's finally figured it out. ... This is going to take a long time. This is big battle, and we'll pull for him all the way."
"I'll be there to support him. I know him before, and there's a lot to offer the world," Carroll said later Monday. "It's been hard on him, and he's made it hard on people around him, too. And he knows that. And he's got to take the steps to take care of business now."
Fisher, a USC alum, also extended well wishes.
"We all are hopeful that Steve gets his life back together and gets things in order," Fisher said. "It's unfortunate that sometimes the personal things affect the business. We all have to respect Pat Haden and [senior associate athletic director] J.K. McKay and the decision that they made and hope they are moving in the right direction and Sark can get things back together so he can get back on the sideline."
Sarkisian checks into treatment facility
Holly Rowe describes the scene on the USC campus after coach Steve Sarkisian was fired and, according to a report from SB Nation, checked into a treatment facility.
Sarkisian fired by USC after being put on leave
Ted Miller explains USC's decision to fire coach Steve Sarkisian just one day after AD Pat Haden put Sarkisian on indefinite leave.