He confirmed at his weekly news conference Tuesday that cornerback Mike Edwards of Cleveland and wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson of Pahokee, Fla., had been banished from the team.
A third player, safety Janzen Jackson, will not participate in team activities until Kiffin receives more information about his alleged part in the incident outside a Knoxville convenience store.
"I wanted to make sure we had all the information before we did that," Kiffin said. "It was a very difficult decision. These are two kids that we recruited, sat with their parents and the people around them in their house. This has been very tough on me."
The players, all 18-year-old freshmen, are accused of attempted aggravated robbery and face Class C felony charges.
Kiffin had nothing to say about a fourth freshman player arrested on shoplifting charges, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Wednesday. Defensive back Nyshier Oliver, who is from New Jersey, was cited for shoplifting at a Knoxville mall Nov. 7, the day the team played Memphis.
"The defendant concealed a brown polo shirt ($110) in his Dillard's shopping bag to deprive the merchant of the value of the merchandise," a Knox County Sheriff's Office incident report stated.