USC fired a student manager that intentionally deflated five game balls below regulation levels in USC’s 62-51 loss to Oregon last Saturday, the university announced Wednesday.
According to USC coach Lane Kiffin, the Pac-12 informed the school of the incident on Sunday, and the school’s compliance department conducted an investigation immediately.
The Pac-12 announced that it had “accepted USC’s self discipline on Wednesday and has additionally issued a $25,000 fine to the USC football program.”
Before the game, officials found that three of USC’s game balls were in violation of NCAA regulations. At halftime, two more were discovered.
Each team uses its own footballs on offense, and deflated balls can be easier to throw and catch.
“We acknowledge the Pac-12’s reprimand and fine,” USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said in a statement. “We regret this incident occurred. It was unacceptable and we apologize for it. I can assure you this will not happen again.”
Kiffin said that according to the compliance department’s investigation, no coaches, players, staffers or administrators knew of the manager’s actions.
“They don’t know why he did [it],” Kiffin said. “[Senior quarterback] Matt [Barkley] was questioned in this as well, obviously. He had no knowledge of this at all.”
Kiffin said he was told that the student manager was seen on the Oregon sideline deflating the 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 the Oregon sideline, right in of them, to be deflating balls,” Kiffin said. “I was just disappointed because it was a distraction that nobody here knew about.”