Conference USA fined Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin $5,000 and publicly reprimanded him on Sunday for violating the league’s sportsmanship policy one day after he tweeted a photograph that depicted on-field officials as being blind.
Kiffin was upset about the officiating in the Owls’ 36-31 loss to Marshall on Saturday, which dropped FAU’s record to 4-3, 2-1 in Conference USA. The lead changed four times in the final 10:09, with the Thundering Herd taking the lead for good on Brenden Knox’s 17-yard run with 36 seconds to go.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) October 20, 2019
“I just lost $5,000 for a tweet,” Kiffin told ESPN on Sunday. “We have freedom of speech, but I guess around here there’s no such thing as freedom to tweet. Maybe LeBron James will come out and comment about it tomorrow.”
Kiffin also told ESPN he spoke with the Conference USA office, and they agreed there were “inconsistencies” in the game’s officiating, and they planned to look further into the matter.
“Conference USA has specific rules and standards regarding sportsmanship which have been adopted by our membership,” commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a statement. “We have an obligation to enforce our rules, including the prohibition of public criticism of officiating.”
The Owls were penalized nine times for 90 yards in the loss. After the game, Kiffin was hesitant to criticize officials when asked about officiating by reporters.
“I already made the decision I’m not going to get into officiating,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know if we lose money in this conference — we probably do — and I don’t have a lot anymore. I’m not going to lose any. I’m about to say what I want to say, but I’m not going to. The assistant AD is back there shaking his head like, ‘Hey, don’t say what you want to say.’ I’m not gonna say anything.”
In the end, however, Kiffin couldn’t resist sharing his opinion with reporters.
“The game might’ve taken five hours because every call took 10 minutes to figure out how to explain it,” Kiffin said. “I can’t get fined for that.”