MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Pac-12 Conference is in turmoil Tuesday after a CBSSports.com report alleged that Pac-12 head of officiating Ed Rush offered a bounty to referees who either gave a technical foul or ejected Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller from a Pac-12 Tournament game.
The Pac-12 has acknowledged the offer did take place during referee meetings on two separate days, but said the comments were made in “jest and the officials in the room realized they were not serious offers.”
Serious or not, during the tournament, referee Michael Irving gave Miller a technical foul for arguing a call during a game a semifinals game against UCLA. Miller was upset over a double-dribble call, but didn’t use profanity and according to CBSSports.com, the technical was out of character for Irving.
If Rush’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was also the one-time head of officiating in the National Basketball Association. Rush was in charge during what is routinely cited as the worst officiated game in recent memory in the NBA, Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.
Game 6 featured a bevy of phantom calls on Sacramento and multiple missed calls against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers would go on to win the series. Game 6 was also alleged to be fixed by disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.
Rush’s most infamous run-in during his NBA run was with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The outspoken Mavericks owner said, “Ed Rush might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen. The No. 1 priority of Ed Rush is maintaining power.”
Cuban would go on to work a day in a Dairy Queen after getting fined by the NBA.
Cuban said Monday on Twitter about the story, “Not surprised..It will get worse.”
Miller criticized the officials after the loss, which came by just two points. He was reprimanded and fined $25,000 by the league for his comments. Rush’s reputation was described by one anonymous Pac-12 referee was that of a bully.
“He just bullies everyone. That was his whole tenor of the meeting on Friday,” the ref told CBSSports.com. “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.”
The problem for the Pac-12 and Rush moving forward is that no matter what the call in an Arizona game is moving forward, the question will remain whether it was a legitimate call. Multiple commentators have called for Rush to be fired or resign, but Rush has refused thus far.
The Pac-12 continues to stand behind Rush at this point and said the matter is closed.