SEC fines Lane Kiffin $25K despite acknowledging officiating error in Ole Miss-Auburn game

The SEC on Monday announced that officials did not properly stop and review a crucial play in Saturday’s Auburn-Ole Miss game, which resulted in a controversial 35-28 loss for the Rebels.

The play, which occurred late in the fourth quarter, appeared to show Auburn return man Shaun Shivers touch the ball before Ole Miss players recovered it in the end zone for a would-be touchdown. Officials did not review the play, however, giving Auburn possession; if the call had been overturned upon review, it would have resulted in a 34-27 lead for the Rebels.

The SEC did not disclose whether the play was correctly called on the field — it has informed Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin of its findings — but did acknowledge the game should have been stopped so the play should have been reviewed.

“On the kickoff return in the Auburn at Ole Miss football game at 5:43 in the 4th quarter, the SEC has determined the replay official should have stopped the game for further review of the play,” the conference said in a statement. “In the football officiating replay process every play is reviewed but, when appropriate, the game is stopped for further review.

“Because the play was not appropriately stopped for further review, the necessary slow-motion view of the play was not viewed by the replay official to determine if the ruling on the field should have been reversed.”

The SEC also announced a $25,000 fine for Kiffin after he retweeted criticism of the conference and its officiating. The original tweet, which came from an Ole Miss fan and alum, showed a close-up replay of the play in question; it also blasted the conference as “a disgrace” and “atrocious” while accusing it of “gifting” Auburn victories. (The Tigers were the beneficiaries of another blown call in the Arkansas game, directly resulting in a 30-28 Tigers win.

“However, Mr. Kiffin’s use of social media Saturday following the game to publicly criticize officiating is in violation of Conference Bylaws and Commissioner’s Regulations that govern Sportsmanship and communication with the Conference Office on officiating issues,” the conference said.

“Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has been fined $25,000 for his use of social media Saturday after the game made in violation of SEC Bylaw 10.5 related to officiating in the Auburn at Ole Miss football game of Oct. 24.”

Kiffin discussed the play in question during his weekly news conference on Monday; he said John McDaid, the SEC’s coordinator of football officials, disclosed the conference’s findings to him but forbade him from making its findings public.

“I really wish for our players, for our fans, that they could hear what I was just told,” Kiffin said. “I think they deserve to, but I asked and they made sure to tell me there’s a policy that I can’t tell you, the players or the fans their explanation for that situation and how the TV copy and everyone in the country could see it hit (Shivers).”

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