Lane Kiffin: Ball controversy ‘distraction nobody here knew about’

Coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley have another controversy surrounding their USC football team.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

USC coaches and players had no knowledge that a student manager deflated balls used by the Trojans during their game against Oregon last week, Coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday.

“Obviously as head coach, everything falls on you,” said Kiffin, who called it “a distraction that nobody here knew about.”

The Pac-12 Conference reprimanded and fined USC because the manager intentionally deflated, below NCAA-regulated levels, several balls used by the Trojans in the first half of their 62-51 loss to the Ducks at the Coliseum. Deflated footballs presumably can be easier to throw and catch.

The student manager is no longer with the program.

Kiffin said the situation was brought to USC’s attention by the Pac-12 on Sunday and that the school’s compliance department conducted the investigation.

Each team utilizes its own balls when it is on offense.

Kiffin said he was told that the manager was seen on the Oregon sideline, near the Ducks bench, deflating footballs before the game.

“For all the conspiracy theories that will think we’re behind this, I don’t think if we were trying to deflate balls we’d be directing a student manager on Oregon sideline, right in front of them, to be deflating balls and playing with…deflated balls,” he said.

USC released a statement from Athletic Director Pat Haden via Twitter:

“We acknowledge the Pac-12’s reprimand and fine,” Haden said. “We regret this incident occurred. It was unacceptable and we apologize for it. I can assure you this will not happen again.”


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