The USC Trojans have been reprimanded and fined $25,000 after a student-manager deflated five footballs before Saturday’s 62-51 loss to Oregon.
The unnamed student manager was immediately fired after admitting he did the deed.
The Pac-12 accepted USC’s self-discipline on Wednesday.
“As a conference, our paramount goal is to provide a safe and fair competitive environment for our student-athletes, their teams, and their fans,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.
“We regret this incident occurred,” athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “It was unacceptable and we apologize for it. I can assure you this will not happen again.”
There were some who thought coach Lane Kiffin was responsible for telling the student manager to deflate the balls. In his three years as the Trojans coach he has refused to disclose injuries during game weeks and switched players’ numbers on special teams to confuse opponents.
Kiffin denies that had anything to do with this latest incident.
“For all the conspiracy (theorists) that’ll think that we were behind this, I don’t think if we were trying to deflate balls we would direct a student manager on the Oregon sideline, right in front of them, to be deflating balls and be playing with some deflated balls and some non-deflating balls,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin added on Thursday he understood if people did not believe him, but claims that he gave the compliance department the same answer. He also admitted that the incident has been frustrating and a distraction since none of the players or coaches were involved.
In an interview on Sirus XM Radio Thursday, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said he learned of the incident after the game, but was not bothered by it.
“They can do whatever they want,” he told Eugene-area reporters later Thursday. “It’s no big deal to us.”
Student managers for USC usually pick out the six game balls with Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley after the team’s Thursday practice, Barkley selecting the half dozen from a larger pool.
Once the balls have been selected they are required to be left alone until game day, when they are examined carefully by the referees. Both teams use six game balls that are stored on opposite sidelines during the games.