Arizona Basketball

Pac-12 will lose credibility if Ed Rush remains director of officiating




A Seattle Times reporter writes Monday that Pac-12 director of officials Ed T. Rush (pictured here) has an abrasive personality

A Seattle Times reporter writes Monday that Pac-12 director of officials Ed T. Rush (pictured here) has an abrasive personality

This site’s title is WILDABOUTAZCATS.net, but this blog has nothing to do with having a slant toward Arizona sports, its coaches or players.

This blog has everything do with what is right concerning the punishment that should be levied against Pac-12 director of officiating Ed T. Rush. If Rush joked to his referees that they should give a technical foul to ASU’s Herb Sendek or Washington’s Lorenzo Romar for $5,000 or a trip to Cancun, this blog would still be published.

Every Pac-12 team and their coaching staffs play under the policing of the referees. If the head of these referees offers a bounty — even in jest, supposedly — for those who call the game and affect the outcome, what does that say about the operation?

No credibility.

No credibility, when it comes to a position of authority and integrity, should mean no job. Rush must be fired.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who has touched all the right buttons to this point in managing the conference, needs to save face after siding with Rush in a released statement.

“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 the 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 Jeff Goodman of 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 Miller 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 a hallway after the game.

If Rush stays, a cloud will linger over the credibility of referees working Arizona games with Miller as head coach.

For Rush to joke about this bounty means a situation existed between Miller and the Pac-12 office before the conference tournament in Las Vegas. That’s one of the mysteries surrounding this fiasco.

Sean Miller reacts to drawing a technical foul during Arizona's loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament (YouTube)

Sean Miller reacts to drawing a technical foul during Arizona’s loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament (YouTube)

Other important questions:

Will Irving referee another Arizona game, with Rush as his boss? That would create a circus. That would take away from the game, that should belong to the athletes. What if that game is played at McKale Center? Would Irving enter the game with a clear, unbiased mind?

Why is Irving officiating UCLA and USC games if he is a Los Angeles law enforcement official? Irving worked all three Arizona-UCLA games. Rush assigns referees to particular games. Would a Tucson law enforcement official be allowed to officiate Arizona games? The answer is no.

Chris Rastatter, a Pac-12 referee from Tucson, is not allowed to work Arizona games.

According to the Seattle Times’ Bud Withers, who has covered the conference for more than three decades: “Officials say Rush, a longtime NBA official and an ex-supervisor in the pros, doesn’t listen to coaches’ input — their opinions are widely regarded as worthwhile in evaluation of officials — and others say he has an abrasive style.”

Veteran NCAA ref Dick Cartmell, who has worked Final Fours, left the Pac-12 Monday citing differences with the conference

Veteran NCAA ref Dick Cartmell, who has worked five Final Fours, recently left the Pac-12 citing personal differences with the direction of the officiating program

Veteran Dick Cartmell, a five-time Final Four official, recently submitted his resignation from the Pac-12. Monday, he cited to The Seattle Times “personal differences with the direction of the officiating program.”

Rush is no stranger to criticism because of his career as an NBA referee, director of officiating for the NBA and now the director of officials for the Pac-12. This criticism, however, is not about a blown call. It is about something that is devious, not what should be expected from a referee’s boss.

No question that some, if not all, of the Pac-12 refs attending the meeting laughed after Rush joked about Miller’s bounty. Classifying it as a joke does not absolve Rush. What’s the line, “If you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny”?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban criticized Rush in 2011, saying that Rush “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen”. A remorseful Cuban, who was not joking, agreed to manage a Dairy Queen restaurant for a day after Dairy Queen officials were upset by the comment.

At the end of Cuban’s Dairy Queen shift, an Associated Press reporter asked him if he believes Rush could still not manage a Dairy Queen.

“It depends on how he treats the customers. That’s the hard part,” Cuban told the AP. “Part of the point I was trying to make with the NBA is that you have to understand your customers and learn to get better as a business.”

Rush’s joke about the Miller bounty shows he does not understand — or care about — coaches’ concerns. He is obviously perturbed by Miller’s actions since he became the Pac-12 director of officials in May of last year.

Rush’s inability to understand coaches — those who must interact with him in evaluating his referees — is another of his shortcomings.

If Scott does not realize this, and does not fire Rush, he is just as inept and the conference will lose credibility.

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner



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