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Report: Pac-12 officials head investigated for targeting Sean Miller

Apr 1, 2013, 7:10 PM EDT

Harvard v Arizona Getty Images

Some unbelievable news out of the Pac-12 Conference this afternoon as CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that Pac-12 Head of Officials Ed Rush is being investigated by the conference for allegedly offering to pay referees to target Arizona coach Sean Miller.

Rush, according to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either “rang him up” or “ran him,” meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game. Rush then reiterated during a Friday morning meeting, according to one referee in attendance, that officials should take similar action against Miller if he did anything on Friday in the Pac-12 semifinals against UCLA.

“He was emphatic about not dealing with him (Miller),” the ref told CBSSports.com. “He made that perfectly clear.”

This sounds like the referee equivalent of the NFL’s “Bounty-Gate”. If referees are being asked to zone in on a coach, then there is going to be a serious rift in the system and relationship between college coaches and refs for the time being, as if there already wasn’t one.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott also issued a statement to CBSSports.com.

“Based on the review, we have concluded that while Rush made inappropriate comments that he now regrets during internal meetings that referenced rewards, he made the comments in jest and the officials in the room realized they were not serious offers,” Scott told CBSSports.com. “Following our review, we have discussed the matter with Rush, taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, and communicated our findings to all of our officials.”

Rush also served as a referee in the NBA and as the league’s director of officiating for five seasons.

Goodman also goes on to quote a referee as saying that another official acted out of character when his issued Miller a technical in the Wildcats’ 66-64 loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals — one that was controversial from the get-go — and confirmed the official, Michael Irving, was in the room with Rush when he issued the alleged bounty. Miller was fined $25,000 for criticizing officials after that game.

Rush should lose his job and any credibility he has. Period. The man has been an official long enough to know that you don’t make statements like this, serious or not. And as of right now, whether he meant the bounty or not, it sounds like at least one official might’ve taken him seriously on that offer. The fact that Larry Scott seems to be ok with just a slap on the wrist is flat out wrong. The only “steps” the conference should be taking to ensure he doesn’t do this again, is by telling him he no longer has a position with the Pac-12.

Bottom line, whether Rush meant his comments or not, they may have had an affect on a pretty important game, which is grounds for severe punishment. His actions put the integrity of the game and those in his profession at risk.

There’s been a ton of scrutiny regarding officials this season, a lot more than in seasons past. And this sure won’t help alleviate the problem.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

  1. glink123 - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    April Fools?

    • manchestermiracle - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:18 AM

      Year-round fools if this is true. I agree that Rush should be gone yesterday, “kidding” or not. Irving should be gone due to the overwhelming “coincidence” of apparently taking Rush up on his “offer.” Scott should be gone for not immediately bringing the hammer down on this fiasco.

      With witnesses to this stupidity available we might just see yet another lawsuit (and rightfully so) if the “brain trust” in the conference doesn’t institute some major damage control post-haste. The NCAA already has plenty of credibility issues without these one-step-removed-from-mob-behavior idiots. Thanks for making the PAC12 look really, really bad, you jackasses.

  2. blantoncollier - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Ed Rush was a respected NBA official. If he made the statements above he should be fired. The official that haned out the questionable T should be fined. Failure to act should cause Scott to be fired. This calls into question the integrety of the game.

  3. larrybrown43 - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    My naive, youthful view of sports has been eroded with age, wisdom, and reality.

  4. trapshoot - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    He should be gone and so should Irving who made the totally ridiculous call and technical against Miller.

  5. glink123 - Apr 2, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    I honestly thought this was an April Fools joke, the story is that stunning. How is there not a legal investigation? You’re now basically forced to review all PAC-12 basketball games for the season, to look for any situations where a highly questionable officiating call affected the outcome of the game. This smells of gambling and point-fixing.

  6. rayburns - Apr 2, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Meanwhile, in an office in the New Orleans Superdome, the following was heard:

    “Damnit, I told you we should have told Roger we were joking!”

  7. aglawman - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    For all you Slive bashers out there, you know darned well that the SEC boss would have bounced Rush without calling him in.

    But more than that, Slive would’ve never hired sleezeball Rush in the first place.

    Scott acted like a rook…and the PAC-whatever looks like fools.

  8. trapshoot - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Then there’s the fact that Miller paid $25,000 for the action of these fools. The league has serious issues with it’s officials.

  9. dmvdmv101560 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Miller should get a $25,000 refund, Rush should be fired, and the PAC-12 commissioner should be fired – in that order!

  10. glink123 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Wonder what would happen if Miller offers any of his players $5,000 or a trip to Cancun to take out the knees of a PAC-12 official during a game next season. Then have it happen. And then have Miller say “I said it in jest”. Think the NCAA would do anything about it? You’re damned right they would. Miller would be fired.

  11. akirchstein - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    The biggest joke of all is that he gets to keep his job because he reportedly was “joking”. If you look up anything on Ed Rush, he lack of professionalism goes back to his case that included Michael Jordan. Someone needs to take the blame for this one.

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