Must establish trust in the system. Pac-12 launches independent review of basketball officiating: bit.ly/Zl5dyA
— Anthony Gimino (@AGWildcatReport) April 9, 2013
Michigan fans are fuming over some calls or non-calls in the Wolverines’ 82-76 loss to Louisville in the NCAA title game Monday night, but none of the Pac-12 officials were at fault.
That should be a relief for embattled Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, whose league did not have a referee in the title game and only one — Randy McCall — who worked in the Final Four.
McCall, who splits his work between the Pac-12 and Mountain West, was one of the referees who took part in the controversial call at the end of regulation in the Arizona-Colorado game Jan. 3 at McKale Center. He and fellow Pac-12 ref Verne Harris and Big 12/Big East ref James Breeding watched video of Colorado guard Sabatino Chen’s last-second shot for five minutes and determined that Chen released the potential game-winning jumper a fraction of a second too late.
Arizona eventually won 92-83 in overtime. That call was significant in a season in which the Pac-12’s officiating operation made national news. The latest is the conference announcing that it is commissioning an independent review of the officiating program following the recent controversy involving former coordinator of officiating Ed Rush.
Scott announced the independent review of the officiating program today.
“Nothing is more important to the Pac-12, or to me personally, than maintaining confidence in our integrity,” Scott said in a statement.
Rush, named the conference’s coordinator of officials last May after serving in that capacity for the NBA, resigned last Thursday after reportedly targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller during the Pac-12 tournament last month in Las Vegas. During meetings with referees at the Pac-12 tournament, Rush reportedly offered $5,000 or a trip to Cancun, Mexico, if they gave Miller a technical foul or ejected him.
Michael Irving, one of the referees in the meetings with Rush, gave Miller a controversial technical foul in the waning minutes of UCLA’s 66-64 victory over Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
Irving is one of 15 Pac-12 referees who worked NCAA tournament games in the last three weeks. The conference assigned 29 officials to work its games this season, so that means only 51.7 percent worked NCAA tournament games. Irving is one of six Pac-12 referees that did not work beyond the second round (following the First Four).
Three went as far as the third round and four to the Sweet 16 (including Mike Reed, who ruled UA guard Mark Lyons double-dribbled against UCLA, prompting Irving’s technical on Miller, who claimed Bruins guard Jordan Adams touched the ball).
Harris worked the Marquette-Syracuse Elite Eight game and McCall the Final Four game between Syracuse and Michigan. Therefore, two refs who took part in that controversial Colorado-Arizona call went deep into the NCAA tournament. The other referee, Breeding, did not work another Pac-12 game the rest of the season.
Some noticeable Pac-12 refs did not call games in the NCAA tournament, including former NBA officials Tommy Nunez and Joe DeRosa. Another left out was veteran NCAA referee Dick Cartmell, who has worked five Final Fours in his career. He cut ties with the Pac-12 early last month because of reported differences with the direction of the officiating program.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten were dwarfed by the presence of Big East, Big 12, ACC and SEC referees who worked the two Final Four and national championship games.
Four referees from the Big East worked the games in Atlanta, including two — John Cahill and Tony Greene — in last night’s Michigan-Louisville game. Cahill and Greene also worked SEC games this season.
The Big 12 had three referees in Atlanta, including John Higgins (who also works Missouri Valley Conference games) in the national title game. Fellow Big 12 refs Doug Sirmons and Mark Whitehead worked the Syracuse-Michigan Final Four game. Sirmons also works in the ACC and Whitehead in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Other than Sirmons, the ACC had referees Les Jones and Karl Hess at the Final Four. Jones and Hess, who also officiate Big East games, worked the Wichita State-Louisville game.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten had only one. The Big Ten ref was Terry Wymer (also a Mid-American Conference ref) who worked the Wichita State-Louisville game.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner