Former Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush said he resigned because he had lost the trust of the conference's coaches to affect positive change among his staff, he told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Friday.
Rush said he lost the coaches' trust after allegations made this week by a number of officials in the Pac-12 to ESPN and other media outlets.
(For a complete transcript of Katz's interview with Rush, click here.)
Rush's decision to resign came less than a week after CBSSports.com first reported the accusation of a technical-foul bounty on Arizona coach Sean Miller during the Pac-12 tournament, which created an atmosphere of fear among his officials.
Officials confirmed that Rush made the comments twice in a meeting during the Pac-12 tournament and then again that Friday after Arizona played UCLA, during which Miller was given a technical after a member of his team was called for a double-dribble. UCLA beat Arizona by two points.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told ESPN earlier this week that Rush's comments didn't rise to the level of being a fireable offense and concluded they were made "in jest."
Rush called his jokes about Miller "stupid."
"I've done a lot of dumb things," he told ESPN.com. "This was top 10."
Rush said Scott did not tell him to resign.
"He and I talked about affecting positive change," Rush said. "I felt bad what I was putting him through. I'm fine. I felt bad about all the energy that he was putting out to do damage control. I said something that was inappropriate and ill-timed. This doesn't feel good. That you're having to talk about this over and over again. We have to talk about whether I can be effective going forward."
Rush said he was "ready to make some dramatic changes that we thought would be good for the game," but to do so he would need the support of Pac-12 coaches, and the accusations made that impossible.
"We had the people in place. We had a plan in place," Rush said. "They were going to have to be real supportive. I felt it would be too difficult to do it based on the climate. I was going to have to spend all my time getting back to the level of trust."
ESPN spoke with a number of officials from the Pac-12 on Thursday who requested anonymity for fear of assignment reprisals or loss of wages. One official said he didn't believe Rush was joking when he talked about rewarding a technical foul with money or a trip to Cancun, Mexico. However, Rush said some officials laughed at the remark.
"It was with the idea to become better communicators. Here we are in the postseason. I went into my jesting mode: What does it take? How about a trip to Cancun or maybe $5,000? There was laughter. I thought there was humor. 'I know you guys would probably take the $5,000, you want the money.' That was the end of it," Rush said.
"The Pac-12 investigative arm when this all came down they took all the guys in the room and what they said to me and Larry told me. They told them that it was in a joking manner and I was not serious."
Rush also said he was using Miller as an example of a coach's actions that needed a response from officials.
"I think he's one of the best young coaches around," Rush said of Miller. "I love his passion and think he's phenomenal. It's similar to mine. I'm not a vendetta kind of guy anyway.
"It's a shame that Sean and I didn't get a chance to talk. We missed that opportunity and I reached out to him this week and didn't hear back and would like to talk to him."
As to officials' accusations that he hurled a box lunch at officials, Rush said he was using it as a prop to demonstrate a possible double-dribble call.
"I was trying to demonstrate it was an incorrect call and why," Rush said. "I was somewhat surprised that the official didn't know the call and why and that someone in Division I basketball didn't know that."
Rush said his management style, which officials called intimidating, "was all done on a professional level and done with expectations."
"There were times when I was aggressive and broke their spirit. It was not the message. It was the passion," Rush said. "I raise my voice, especially when I don't think people are telling me the truth."