Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush has been investigated for comments made during a meeting of officials where he allegedly offered cash or a tropical vacation for any referee who issued a technical foul or ejected Arizona coach Sean Miller.
Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, who broke the story, citing an anonymous Pac-12 referee, said that Rush, who previously worked as the NBA's director of officiating, told a group of officials during the Pac-12 tournament to target Miller and that he would give $5,000 or a trip to Cancun to anyone who "rang him up" with a technical foul or "ran him," meaning an ejection from the game.
Referee Michael Irving, who was in the meeting where the alleged offer took place, issued a controversial technical foul on Miller with 4:37 left in the tournament semifinals against UCLA. Miller was arguing a double-dribble call and claims to not have directed any profanities toward the officials when arguing the call. UCLA ended up winning the game, 66-64.
Miller was fined $25,000 for criticizing the call and confronting an official after the game. It was Miller's first technical of the season.
“The reason I got the technical foul is because I said, ‘He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball,’ ” Miller said after the game.
The anonymous ref who spoke to CBSSports.com said the call was out of character for the official who issued it.
"That's not Michael (Irving)'s mentality as a ref," said the source. "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."
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott issued the following statement about 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,” 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."
Rush has been a consultant to the Pac-12's officiating program since 2007 and was named the conference's coordinator of officials in 2012. Previously, Rush was a referee in the ABA and NBA for 32 years before serving as the NBA's director of officiating from 1998 to 2003.