Former Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush agreed to a question- and-answer session Friday night in response to the allegations made by a number of officials in the Pac-12 to ESPN and other media outlets.
The former longtime NBA official resigned from his position Thursday, after one season on the job.
ESPN: Why did you joke about offering money and a trip to officials to enforce the rules in a meeting of the officials during the Pac-12 tournament?
Rush: "I would call it stupid. I've done a lot of dumb things. This was top 10."
Why did you resign 48 hours after Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the comment wasn't a fireable offense?
"He didn't tell me to resign. He and I talked about affecting positive change. 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.
"We barely made the changes. We made a few. I managed (former Pac-12 coordinator Bill McCabe's) staff. We were ready to make some dramatic changes that we thought would be good for the game. But to do that, we would have to have the 12 coaches believe in what we were doing. If you change the faces and get greater productivity. It takes a little while to change the faces. They're used to seeing the same people. We thought it was time for us to move on. We were going to move on. I was going to get together individually and collectively. We were working on putting this together and grading and integrity of the group. It was pretty neat. It was most dramatic change.
"We had the people in place. We had a plan in place. 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 spend all my time getting back to the level of trust.
"I needed those guys to buy in and to me it was going to take the entire summer to just get back to square one and then at that point I didn't want to manage Bill's staff again and stand pat. It was one of those things where I love working with the D-League guys and (Division II) coached football for eight years and I missed it. I thought this would be better."
What was the context of making the joke with the Pac-12 officials?
"It was after I said the game cried out for bench warnings. I said you guys understand we've been talking about this all year. We've put up examples on weekly video. We took it to the point where we had Ernie Kent come into preseason training and did role play. We did this by the hour.
"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.
"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 (Scott) told me. They told them that it was in a joking manner and I was not serious."
Why would anyone think you were not joking?
"Not unless they had an agenda. If I actually did that, that's a serious accusation. I am now trying to manipulate games and give them offers?"
Did you specifically mention Sean Miller?
"We had a game earlier in the year, Arizona at Arizona State, where Sean was overly excited but the crew literally ignored him. What happens, he took more and more liberties. There were no boundaries. I said to the crew after the game, 'What happened? That's an easy technical.' And then the NCAA came out with a third memo video message from (NCAA chair) Mike Bobinski about sportsmanship and the actions needed to be taken. I said, 'This is not an Ed Rush deal. You got this from NCAA.' We got another reminder.
"The only way he was singled out. I put that on the website. All I said this action needs a response from us and look at this and discuss it in the pregame meetings. He was the example we put on there.
"We talked about how they have a tendency to coach on the court. We mentioned both coaches, Ben Howland and Sean Miller. We were showing videos of both teams.
"I think he's one of the best young coaches around. 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 the 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."
Did you hurl a box lunch at the officials after the UCLA-Arizona game?
"I had to use it as a prop because there were no basketballs in the room to show the two possible calls on that play of which one was not double-dribble.
"I was trying to demonstrate it was an incorrect call and why. 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."
Did you slam a chair up and down at the meeting with Pac-12 officials during the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas?
"I was staying at the MGM and there are bar stools and at the one end of the room we showed video. We were going through all our points of emphasis and showed bench decorum. I hit the pause and showed one sequence when Sean (Miller) was out on the court and the official was on the sideline and Sean was a step by the 3-point line. I picked up the bar stool and walked three steps down and placed it down. This is where we were and coach-wise and showed the same thing with Ben Howland. This is very easy. These guys are coaching their teams but we need to trade positions. They need to be here and they need to be there. We looked at that. They understand boundaries and we're doing them a favor and they're very literal. Maybe we weren't as literal during the year to make sure they know the boundaries and work the game. The crew chief did that. They did a very good job of articulating that in the pregame. The coaches met and reviewed video and remind you."
How do you respond to the charge that you managed through intimidation?
"That's a pretty broad-based word. Does intimidation mean they are accountable for a grade for every game and they can improve that number and get better? I'm a coach. If you would ask Sean (Miller) this: Does he treat every player exactly the same? Some you pat on the back and do better and other guys raise your voice you've got to be better than that. I learned to coach your team with your personnel. I've had guys say, 'Don't yell at me.' So I won't. I just want to make my point. Others say, 'If you're not coming after me, then how I do know you're care?' It was all done on a professional level and done with expectations. I said before the (Pac-12) tournament, 'Do the best you can and then we'll look to see how we could improve this.' There were times when I was aggressive and broke their spirit. It was not the message. It was the passion. I raise my voice, especially when I don't think people are telling me the truth."
What was the morale of the officials this season?
"I think there was a percentage, maybe 15 percent, that were pretty disappointed. They had unfulfilled expectations. I would say the other guys felt pretty good. I would say a third of the guys loved the accountability and the coaching and they thrived on the feedback and game-by-game coaching. There was a group never exposed to this before. That group was coming around and it showed on the game grading. We were getting great results. The other group wanted no part of this and they figured a way to go through the motions. It's different with independent contractors. I was trying to get as close as that (NBA-type officiating with employees) as possible. We had to look at some people could give us some productivity because we couldn't coach them."