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Head of SEC officiating fired by league

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The longtime head of basketball referees
for the Southeastern Conference was fired and replaced, but the
league wouldn't give the reason for his ouster, which came amid the
departure of two game officials.

Commissioner Mike Slive said the termination of John Guthrie
after 25 years was "a personnel matter" and declined further
comment.

Reached at home in Atlanta, Guthrie also declined to discuss his
departure, according to a story published Friday in The Birmingham
News.

"I won't have much to say at this time," he said.

Guthrie confirmed to another newspaper, the Knoxville News
Sentinel, that he did not resign and was terminated by the SEC
office.

The News Sentinel also reported Friday that an SEC referee from
Atlanta, Jason McNeil, will not be assigned to officiate any more
SEC basketball games. Slive would not comment on McNeil's status,
either.

Another SEC basketball official from Atlanta, Travis Correll,
resigned earlier this week after the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission filed suit in Texas alleging he and others ran a
fraudulent investment scheme that raised more than $26 million
since July 2004.

Slive said Correll would have been removed from officiating
league games had he not quit.

Correll, who was in his second season as an SEC basketball ref,
was accused with five others of selling interests in purported
foreign and international bank deposit programs promising risk-free
returns of 4 percent to 12 percent.

According to the complaint, the bank deposit program did not
exist and investment returns came from the proceeds of more recent
investors in what is commonly referred to as a Ponzi scheme.

Guthrie said his firing had nothing to do with the investigation
of Correll, who has an Atlanta-based company called Horton
Establishment.

Guthrie was replaced in the league position by Gerald Boudreaux,
a director of parks and recreation in Lafayette, La., who has
worked as an SEC official for more than 20 years.

As coordinator of officials, he will be responsible for making
assignments for the nearly 70 men that the conference can call on
to officiate basketball games. Slive said the league had a
conference call with coaches on Thursday to discuss the change.

Slive said Boudreaux was acting in as interim coordinator of
basketball officials.

"He has strong feelings about this conference and right now is
willing to step up and help. At the end of the season, he and I can
evaluate the job," said Slive.