For groin stomp, USC’s Jabari Ruffin must write apology letter, sit out a half

Linebacker Jabari Ruffin, shown during training camp, is being punished by USC for incident during Alabama game.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

USC linebacker Jabari Ruffin was last seen being escorted off the field after being ejected from Saturday’s game against Alabama. He’d stomped on the groin of a downed Alabama player, Minkah Fitzpatrick.

In order to play again, he’ll have to issue an apology.

Coach Clay Helton announced during a teleconference Sunday that Ruffin will sit out the first half of USC’s next game, against Utah State on Saturday.

Helton will also require Ruffin to write a letter apologizing for the stomp “as a learning lesson,” Helton said.

“Jabari is a good kid that made a poor, emotional decision,” Helton said. “I am sorry as a head coach. ... He is also. And I know that it will not happen again.”


It is unclear what prompted the incident, which occurred toward the end of the first half of what was, at the time, a close game. Ruffin stood over Fitzpatrick after a kickoff, as USC’s returner, Adoree’ Jackson, was offering Fitzpatrick a hand off the turf. Ruffin stepped down hard on Fitzpatrick’s groin area, then turned back to watch Fitzpatrick’s reaction. An official was standing feet away and immediately threw a flag

“He understands that his conduct is unbecoming of a Trojan, and there will be zero tolerance moving forward,” Helton said.

Osa Masina, Don Hill will continue to practice

The two USC players named by an LAPD search warrant as suspects in a sexual assault investigation will continue to practice and attend team meetings and university classes, Helton said.

Linebacker Osa Masina, who is being investigated in Los Angeles and Utah for two incidents of sexual assault, was suspended early last week for USC’s season opener against Alabama. Linebacker Don Hill made the trip with the team to Texas but was sent home Friday, less than a day after published reports, later confirmed by the search warrant, also named him as a suspect in one of the alleged incidents.


Helton said that he is “taking guidance from the university on the issue.”

“What I have been told is both young men are allowed to go to school, practice and do meetings,” Helton said. “That’s as of this moment right now.”

Helton did not say whether Masina or Hill would be available to play against Utah State. Helton has said that Masina’s suspension could extend beyond one game.

Steve Sarkisian to discuss Alabama role

Alabama could soon add a second deposed USC coach to its staff. Steve Sarkisian is set to travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to “discuss a role” as a special assistant to the offense, Fox Sports reported and The Times has confirmed.

Sarkisian was fired after five games last season amid erratic behavior and other alcohol-related issues.

Sarkisian filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against USC, claiming he should have been allowed to seek treatment for alcoholism. The suit is headed for binding arbitration.


Troll Tide

The other deposed USC coach, Lane Kiffin, decided to be magnanimous after Saturday’s game. He found a handful of USC players and coaches on the field and hugged them, even offensive tackle Zach Banner, who struggled to find positive words about Kiffin before the game.

Kiffin’s quiet basking in the victory lasted less than 24 hours. He sent a Tweet on Sunday that showed a picture of his son, Knox, holding the game ball.

He’d also affixed a hashtag: #3:14AM-LAX.

Almost certainly not coincidentally, Kiffin was fired by USC at around 3:14 a.m. at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013, after a loss to Arizona State.

Quick hits

Left tackle Chuma Edoga, who left Saturday’s game with a thigh contusion and dehydration, required three liters of intravenous fluid, Helton said. … Left tackle Chad Wheeler, who did not start because of a foot injury, played the second half in Edoga’s absence and experienced mild soreness Sunday. ... Defensive tackle Rasheem Green suffered an elbow sprain against Alabama “that we feel will be OK,” Helton said. … Defensive tackle Noah Jefferson sprained his shoulder. Helton said it is a first-degree sprain, the mildest classification, and he is “hoping he’ll be back for the next game.” … Cornerback Jackson was pulled from Saturday’s game for hamstring tightness as a precaution. … Safety Leon McQuay suffered a biceps contusion that will require wearing extra padding. ... Center Toa Lobendahn suffered knee inflammation and an ankle injury but was able to continue playing Saturday.

Staff writer Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.


Twitter: @zhelfand


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