Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, responding to a CBSSports.com report that basketball coordinator of officiating Ed Rush made inappropriate statements targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller, acknowledged Monday that the conference has investigated Rush and found that the statements were made with no ill will intended.
"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," Scott said in a statement.
CBSSports.com reported that before the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, Rush told a group of referees that he would pay $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. An unnamed source identified as a referee told CBSSports.com that Rush "was emphatic about not dealing with (Miller). He made that perfectly clear."
During Arizona's 66-64 loss to UCLA in the conference tournament semifinal, referee Michael Irving called a controversial technical foul on Miller after the coach argued a double dribble call on Wildcats guard Mark Lyons. The CBSSports.com report identified Irving as one of the referees present when Rush offered the incentive. Miller was later fined $25,000 for confronting an official and inappropriate behavior toward a Pac-12 staff member in an area hallway after the game.
"The reason I got the technical foul is because I said, 'He touched the ball. He touched the ball,'" Miller said after the Pac-12 tournament loss, repeating the phrase three more times.
"They don't talk to me," Miller said of the referees. "If I cuss and I'm out of control and I've been warned, shame on me. When I say, 'He touched the ball, he touched the ball,' because I thought the two of them could have maybe gotten together and explained that, in fact, he did touch the ball."
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement Monday that his university had been in contact with the Pac-12 office after learning of the alleged offer Rush made.
"On Sunday, March 17, we first learned of the allegation of the events that occurred during the conference tournament," Byrne said. "Due to the serious implications, we immediately shared our concerns with commissioner Scott and the conference office. We know that an investigation was held and any further issue is a matter for the Pac-12 office."
Rush, formerly director of officiating for the NBA, has served as a consultant to the Pac-12 men's basketball officiating program since 2007. He was named the conference coordinator of officials in May 2012.
Scott's statement said the conference has reached out to all parties involved to discuss its findings during the investigation.
"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," Scott said.