NBA Denies ESPN's Report That Tim Donaghy Fixed Games

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2019

6 Dec 2000:  Referee Tim Donaghy  stands on the court during the game between the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks defeated the Knicks 94-85.   NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the only rights Allsport are offering to license in this Photograph are one-time, non-exclusive editorial rights. No advertising or commercial uses of any kind may be made of Allsport photos. User acknowledges that it is aware that Allsport is an editorial sports agency and that NO RELEASES OF ANY TYPE ARE OBTAINED from the subjects contained in the photographs.  Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martinez  /Allsport
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NBA is denying a report from ESPN that Tim Donaghy fixed games while working as a referee for the league.

NBA.com published the league's official statement, which read in part:

"The Tim Donaghy matter concluded over a decade ago with a full investigation by the federal government, Donaghy's termination from the NBA, and his conviction for criminal acts. At the same time, at the request of the NBA, former prosecutor Larry Pedowitz conducted an independent investigation of Donaghy's misconduct and issued publicly a 133-page report. This report was based on an extensive review of game data and video as well as approximately 200 interviews, thousands of pages of documents, and consultation with various gambling and data experts.

"The ESPN Article attempts to revive this old story. Unfortunately, it is replete with errors, beginning with its statement that the Pedowitz Report 'concluded that Donaghy, in fact, did not fix games.' The Pedowitz Report made no such conclusion. Rather, the investigation found no basis to disagree with the finding of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office that '[t]here is no evidence that Donaghy ever intentionally made a particular ruling during a game in order to increase the likelihood that his gambling pick would be correct.' ESPN ignores this important distinction.

"The new material that ESPN has assembled to support its own conclusion that Donaghy manipulated games is not strong and adds little to the existing record."

Scott Eden of ESPN.com completed an analysis of 40 games officiated by Donaghy from Dec. 12, 2006, through March 21, 2007, and found his foul calls "favored the team that received the heavier betting 70 percent of the time."

Eden also wrote that Shawna Vercher, who published a memoir about Donaghy, said in a 2009 deposition the former NBA official told her he refused to take a polygraph test about fixing games "because he would fail it." 

Donaghy resigned from the NBA in July 2007 after the FBI opened an investigation into allegations he was influencing the outcome of games on which he or associates of his had bet money. 

In 2008, a federal judge sentenced Donaghy to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce. 

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