Top Pac-12 men’s basketball official resigns amid controversy
SALT LAKE CITY – The top men’s basketball official for the Pac-12 Conference has resigned.
Ed Rush, the Pac-12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating, announced his resignation, effective immediately, on Thursday.
“I want to express my appreciation for the great contribution Ed made to basketball officiating for the Conference during his tenure, particularly in the area of training and the cultivation of new officiating talent. All of us at the Conference thank him for his years of hard work, and we wish him well,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released Thursday.
The resignation comes after allegations that Rush targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller during internal meetings before the Pac-12 tournament.
Rush reportedly made “inappropriate jokes” before the Pac-12 semifinals offering officials $5,000 for a trip to Cancun if they called a technical foul on Miller.
“I can confirm that following the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, we received a complaint that Pac-12 Coordinator of Officials Ed Rush offered game officials inappropriate incentives for being stricter with Pac-12 coaches,” Scott said in a statement on Monday.
“I consider the integrity of our officiating program to be of the highest importance and immediately ordered a review of the matter. 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.”
In Arizona’s semifinal game against UCLA, a controversial technical foul was called against Miller in the final minutes of the game. It was Miller’s first technical foul of the season, and the referee who called the foul was in the room with Rush at the time of the comments. Arizona went on to lose the game 66-64.
That controversial call, combined with Rush’s comments, led to criticism against the Pac-12 Conference and calls for Rush’s firing.
Rush first joined the Pac-12 Conference’s officiating program in 2007 and became the Pac-12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating in May 2012. That position came after 32 seasons as an official with the NBA, including serving as the Director of Officiating for the NBA from 1998 to 2003.
“I would like to thank the Pac-12 for giving me the opportunity to lead a group of officials who are working so hard to make the Pac-12 the best officiated conference in college basketball,” said Rush in Thursday’s statement. “My first and highest concerns have always been the integrity of the game of basketball and the honor of the craft of officiating. While I am proud of what we have accomplished, my decision to resign reflects my strong desire to see the Pac-12 officiating program continue to grow and thrive.”
Scott said in Thursday’s statement that a process to select a new officiating coordinator will be part of the overall program review that had already been scheduled for after the college basketball season.