Before Steve Alford and Andy Enfield bring their new respective coaching philosophies to the basketball programs at UCLA and USC, they might want to check in with the Pac-12’s office of officiating to see if there’s any philosophical differences in the way it keeps its house in order.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott acknowledged an investigation took place involving Ed Rush, who coordinates all Pac-12 officials, for comments he made to his group regarding incentives to target Arizona coach Sean Miller with either a technical foul or ejection, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.
Goodman’s report Monday included a “source within the Pac-12 officiating group” who said Rush told a group of referees on the March 14 Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, and reiterated it the March 15 Friday morning, that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either “rang (Miller) up” with a technical foul or “ran him” – kicked him out.
Then – by no surprise? — Miller was hit with an interesting technical foul by referee Michael Irving during Arizona’s semifinal loss to UCLA on Friday. With 4:37 left, Miller protested a double-dribble call against Arizona’s Mark Lyons that resulted in a turnover, with the Wildcats up by two points. UCLA’s Jordan Adams made both free throws to tie the game – one the Bruins won by two points.
Miller, who had not received a technical foul all year, was baffled by the call made on the court against his player, and even moreso about the technical put on him because it involved no profanity. Miller also got a reprimand from the league for confronting an official after the game.
In a statement to CBSSports.com, Scott said Rush made “inappropriate comments that he now regrets” but they were made “in jest and the officials in the room realized they were not serious offers.” Scott did not say if there was any punishment for Rush only that the conference has “taken steps to ensure it does not happen again.”
Not to get into rush to judgment against Rush, but in light of red-flag issues in the past with NBA officials becoming involved in gambling on games, and the several point-shaving incidents that have plagued the college game over the last half century, this is no joke.
Rush, a former NBA official who directed the league’s referees, came to the Pac-12 after Bill McCabe retired last year. Maybe Scott didn’t do all the due dillgence required to find out Rush’s backstory.
The CBSSports.com story quoted the unnamed referee who revealed the incident: “(Rush is) a bully. He just bullies everyone. That was his whole tenor of the meeting on Friday. We’re all afraid of him. He’s the most respected basketball officiating person on the West Coast and he’s been given all the juice.”
Bully for him, but not for the Pac-12.
If the conference is serious about taking a lead in the college athletic landscape and becoming a true guiding force in how it runs its operations under Scott, this non-reprimand can’t be taken at face value. Something more is amiss.
The next time there’s a questionable call made against Arizona, or anyone else in the Pac-12, this will be the context now to refer back upon.
Scott is too bright to let a dim-wit like Rush either push his buttons or shove him into a corner.
Do we read between the lines and assume Scott is afraid of Rush?
Maybe we need to call the playground official and bring everyone into the principal’s office for a time out. Because funny or not, Rush’s comments could just be the tip of an iceberg that neither Scott nor the rest of us even know about at this point.