A report from USA Today on Saturday indicated tension between Arizona and the Pac-12 pertaining to the events surrounding former Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush and UA head coach Sean Miller.
The report said the Pac-12 and the UA’s relationship was strained even before the Pac-12 tournament, which is where Rush reportedly offered the officiating crew $5,000 or a trip to Cancun, Mexico if they either ejected Miller or gave him a technical foul.
USA Today obtained documents which showed a “flurry of communication and continuing disagreement” surrounding circumstances with Arizona’s 66-64 loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament on March 15. In that game, Miller received his first technical foul call of the season, leading to two UCLA free throws and eventually his post-game antics — reportedly berating Pac-12 referee Michael Irving and subsequently a Pac-12 staffer shortly after. His actions resulted in a $25,000 fine.
After Rush resigned on April 4, UA athletic director Greg Byrne told the Daily Wildcat: “We’ve said that we’ve been very concerned about where we are with this and what led up to it. I was pleased to see that there’s gonna be an independent inquiry into the whole situation. I think that’s a good step and I think we’ve taken a couple good steps in the last week or so. All of our fans probably need a little reassuring right now so these are good steps.”
Here are some of the highlights of USA Today’s reported correspondence:
— Miller, through UA’s director of basketball operations Ryan Reynolds, emailed Rush after Arizona’s regular season loss to UCLA on March 2 with a request for review of 21 “questionable calls.” On March 17, Byrne emailed Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott with a complaint that Rush responded to Miller’s request for review with a “condescending” email.
— A few days later, after learning about Rush’s Cancun offer, Byrne asked Scott to waive the $25,000 fine.
— Scott told Byrne he would waive the fine under three conditions: if Miller apologized to the unnamed Pac-12 staff member he berated, if he met with Rush and Scott by the end of April and if the UA athletic department would “commit to developing a plan to work with Coach Miller on his conduct and reaction to situations like this, to ensure that these incidents do not happen again.” Miller refused, though he did write an apology to the Pac-12 staffer.
— In a March 26 memo Scott wrote to Byrne, he said Miller showed “no signs of contrition” and that he was troubled by the “impression that you condone Coach Miller’s behavior or, at the very least, fail to adequately appreciate its seriousness.” The fine stood.
— Byrne forwarded Scott’s memo to UA President Ann Weaver Hart, who wrote back: “We need to let this go now. You did your best.”
— The report also said Miller was previously warned about his actions toward officials following a January 10 game against Oregon where Scott said that Miller “confronted the game officials in the tunnel after the game” and that “included pointing at the official and profanity.”
— In response to Hart’s email quoted in the article, Byrne tweeted Sunday: “Wildcats, don’t let one line in an article confuse you … President Hart has been extremely supportive.”
Wildcat recruits take on World at Nike Hoop Summit
It’s All-Star season for the best high school basketball players in America, and Arizona’s top two 2013 recruits have been making the rounds. Both Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were McDonald’s All-Americans, and Saturday, they both played for the USA Junior Select Team at the Nike Hoop Summitt in Portland.
Gordon, who was the McDonald’s All-Star Game MVP, had nine points and one rebound. Hollis-Jefferson stood out with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds as Team USA lost to the World team 112-98 at the Rose Garden.
New Draft rankings have Jerrett undrafted
DraftExpress updated its Top 100 rankings for this year’s draft on Saturday, and former Wildcat Grant Jerrett, who recently decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility and enter the draft, came in at No. 76. There are only 60 spots in the NBA Draft.
Former Arizona forward Solomon Hill came in at No. 46, as he’s widely projected as a second round pick. Other NBA hopefuls like guard Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom are not ranked by DraftExpress, although NBADraft.net ranks Parrom No. 84.