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Lane Kiffin calls conference realignment ‘really sad’ for student-athletes and fans

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin is not a fan of the recent conference expansion that has taken place in college athletics.

Within the past four months, eight programs in the Pac-12 conference — USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah — have decided to jump ship, with some set to join the Big Ten and others poised to become members of the Big 12.

The decision from USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington to join the Big Ten will force the West Coast schools to travel thousands of miles to play in places like Piscataway, N.J., and Centre County, Pa. beginning in 2024.

During his weekly press conference, Kiffin expressed personal ire with the universities’ decisions to put fans in a position where attending games will become much less affordable. He also argued that the move is unfair to student-athletes who already have a plate full of responsibilities outside of sports.

“I think it’s really sad for fans that want to travel to games,” Kiffin said. “We’re just talking about football here, but let’s talk about all of the sports that now have to fly around the country. They play on weekdays. They get back at 4:00 in the morning. They’ve got to go to school. Parents aren’t going to get to see near as many games.”

Kiffin asserted that the almighty dollar, not the interests of student-athletes, was the driving factor for programs to join more profitable conferences that have lucrative television and streaming contracts.

“It’s obviously about money, so anybody that says [of] these decisions, ‘Well they weren’t about money,’ or, ‘Money was just a small factor,’ — no. You don’t do that to all of your student-athletes. That’s not for the betterment of student-athletes at all,” Kiffin said.

“I hope nobody gets on to these 17, 18-year-olds who make money or make decisions off of NIL money when all these universities are doing it. You’re talking about 100 years of tradition just washed up for some more money.”

One of the traditional rivalries that will cease to exist due to conference realignment is the Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Sooners, alongside the Texas Longhorns, are set to become official members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) after the 2023-2024 academic year comes to an end.

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