Pac-12 fines USC's Lane Kiffin $10K

Updated: November 1, 2011, 4:16 PM ET
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin was fined $10,000 for comments criticizing the officiating in Saturday's USC-Stanford game, the Pac-12 conference announced Monday night.

Safety T.J. McDonald was also suspended for the first half of the Trojans' next game against Colorado on Friday for a hit on Stanford receiver Chris Owusu in the fourth quarter.

Kiffin, the Trojans' second-year head coach, was upset about the way the end of regulation in the classic Coliseum game was handled, among other disputed instances. He has said he was promised by side judge Brad Glenn that he'd be awarded a timeout if it was ruled that receiver Robert Woods was tackled inbounds with one second left in the game.

He was not, and he said in his postgame press conference following USC's 56-48 triple-overtime loss that he was "extremely disappointed" with the officiating. He then said Sunday that he was "basically lied to" by the Pac-12 officials.

"The Pac-12 has specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating, and this prohibition specifically includes comments that create doubts about the credibility of the conference's officiating program," conference commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released late Monday. "The Conference expects each Pac-12 coach to adhere to our standards of conduct and to conduct himself or herself in a manner which will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference."

Kiffin spoke about the referees unprompted in his postgame press conference and had to be reminded to move on to other topics by a school spokesperson. He also brought up the topic a number of times in a conference call with reporters on Sunday, saying that his 2-year-old son Knox was better able to calculate where a triple-overtime holding call against Stanford should have resulted in the Cardinal getting the ball.

He has not apologized for any of his comments.

"After numerous (conversations) with the conference office, we have agreed to disagree," Kiffin said in a statement released by the school following the Pac-12 announcement. "As I have been saying the past two days, we have moved on from last week's game and we are preparing for a very challenging conference game this Friday at Colorado."

This is Kiffin's first punishment since arriving at USC in January 2010.

On a key third down on Stanford's final drive in regulation, McDonald was called for a 15-yard personal-foul penalty for targeting a defenseless Owusu, which was also protested by Kiffin following the game. The call gave the Cardinal a first down, and they scored seven plays later to tie the game at 34-34 with less than a minute left in regulation.

It was the fourth such penalty of the 2011 season for McDonald, who was whistled three times for similar fouls against Arizona State last month. He was suspended because he "had been previously warned about illegal hits above the shoulders on defenseless opponents," Scott said.

Kiffin has said he has "no idea" how to coach him out of committing the penalties in the future.

"While Mr. McDonald was appropriately penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a half-game suspension," Scott said. "This process was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.

"Mr. McDonald had been previously warned about illegal hits above the shoulders on defenseless opponents. In order to protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we enforce these penalties for the safety of the game."

McDonald, a junior safety and potential NFL prospect, said he would try to find a way around the calls in the future.

"I accept my penalty and I apologize to my teammates, to our Trojan fans and to the Stanford team," he said in a statement released by the school and via his Twitter account. "I'm disappointed that I can't be with my teammates during the first half of this Friday's game, but I know they will do a great job without me. I was not purposefully trying to hurt the receiver.

"As I said after the game, I will figure out a way to play physically and still stay within the rules."

Kiffin maintained his original stance on McDonald's penalty and subsequent suspension.

"We respectfully disagree with the suspension imposed on T.J. McDonald," Kiffin said Monday. "He made a bang-bang play and his intent was not to hurt the receiver or launch his body at the receiver or lead with his helmet. If you watch the hit in real time, we feel it is impossible to competitively play that play any differently.

"T.J. is a tremendous player and leader for our team, and he has our full support. I know he felt badly about being penalized and the impact it had in the game."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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