Pac-12 basketball head of officials Ed Rush was investigated for reportedly offering compensation to fellow referees for targeting Arizona head coach Sean Miller during the Pac-12 tournament.
The news comes from CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman:
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."
However, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, according to Goodman's report, said that Rush's inappropriate comments were made "in jest and the officials in the room realized they were not serious offers."
With the exception of an internal meeting and a stern talking to, Rush was not punished.
According to Pac-12.com, Larry Scott shared his response to the incident:
"I can confirm that following the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament, we received a complaint that Pac-12 Coordinator of Officials Ed Rush offered game officials inappropriate incentives for being stricter with Pac-12 coaches,” Commissioner Scott said on Monday.
“I consider the integrity of our officiating program to be of the highest importance and immediately ordered a review of the matter. 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. 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."
On the surface, the complaints seem like fairly wild claims, but if you backtrack to the Wildcats’ game with UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals, the situation becomes far more intriguing.
In that game, Miller was hit with a controversial technical—his very first of the season—with just over four minutes remaining, which ended up being a major turning point that helped the Bruins escape with the 66-64 win.
After the game, Miller responded with a press conference that is now famous, claiming several times that all he said to warrant the technical was "he touched the ball."
Moreover, referee Michael Irving, who, according to Goodman's report, was in the room with Rush on Friday, is not known for giving technical fouls:
"That's not Michael (Irving)'s mentality as a ref," said the source, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing assignments within the Pac-12. "He's a really good ref and manages situations without using technicals. It was absolutely because of what was said in the meeting. There's no doubt in my mind. It's a bad position to be put in."
Was Ed Rush properly punished?
While Scott has apparently made his decision on this matter, it will be one that is met with heaps of criticism. The evidence is seriously stacked against Rush, and this is not a story to be taken lightly.
If found guilty, it's an abominable, disgraceful act for which he—and potentially other officials—would have to be fired.