Pac-12 conference investigating head of officials for suspicious comments regarding Miller
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that Sean Miller was fined for his comments in his postgame press-conference. His fine came after he confronted an official after the game.
The Pac-12 conference announced it has investigated Pac-12 head of officials and former NBA referee Ed Rush, for “inappropriate comments” Monday, regarding an Arizona Wildcats Pac-12 tournament game three weeks ago, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.
Rush allegedly offered a group of referees $5,000 or a trip to Cancun should they give Miller a technical at some point during the Wildcats’ Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal game against Colorado on March 15, according to the report.
No technical foul was called in that game, but in a similar meeting the next day, before the Pac-12 tournament semifinal against UCLA, Rush reiterated that “the officials should take similar action against Miller.” At the 4:37 mark in the second half, Miller was called for a technical after trying to clarify whether or not a UCLA player touched the ball on a double-dribble violation by UA point guard Mark Lyons. The Bruins sank both free throws, and the Wildcats lost the game, 66-64, and were eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament.
Kyle Wasson / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA men's basketball team traveled to Las Vegas, March 13-16, for the 2012-13 Pac-12 Basketball Tournament. Although the Wildcats won their first matchup against Colorado, they fell to UCLA in the semi-finals for the third time this season.
The official who called the technical, Michael Irving, was in the room at the time of Rush’s incentive offering, according to the CBSSports.com report.
Rush has been the league’s officiating coordinator for 11 months.
Miller made some spirited comments in the postgame press conference, repeating the phrase, “He touched the ball,” for emphasis on what he told officials before the technical was called. A few days later, Miller was fined $25,000 by the conference for confronting a game official on the floor and for acting inappropriately toward a staff member in the hallway.
“On Sunday, March 17, we first learned of the allegation of the events that occurred during the Conference Tournament,” Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement. “Due to the serious implications, we immediately shared our concerns with Commissioner Scott and the Conference office. We know that an investigation was held and any further issue is a matter for the Pac-12 office.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott released a statement regarding the matter, stating that Rush’s comments were meant to be taken as a joke. Scott also acknowledged that the conference received a complaint that Rush had offered gifts to officials for “being stricter with Pac-12 coaches.”
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
Senior forward Solomon Hill took the news as one might expect, tweeting “im waiting for the PAC-12 to reveal its just an April fools joke…”