Recently, Pac-12 head of officiating (and former NBA referee) Ed Rush was investigated for unfairly targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller.
Rush, according to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $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. Rush then reiterated during a Friday morning meeting, according to one referee in attendance, that officials should take similar action against Miller if he did anything on Friday in the Pac-12 semifinals against UCLA.
Referee Michael Irving later hit Miller up with a questionable technical, and this all sounded incriminating. Rush resigned amidst the “scandal,” making him seem guilty. But his account suggests that he got screwed over, so, judge accordingly.
Ed Rush admits he made a mistake. The former Pac-12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating said something in jest at the wrong time in front of the wrong audience. In the end, it cost him his job. On Thursday, amid national criticism, Rush resigned.
So, yeah. Rush claimed the Cancun offer was just a joke, which could certainly be true. Though it was eerily similar to some stuff in the NBA’s Tim Donaghy scandal, where Donaghy said refs would make side bets during the game, like, seeing who could go the longest without calling a foul.
There’s evidence against him, but his rebuttals are somewhat reasonable.
*This week, Rush has been accused of creating an “atmosphere of fear” among officials. ESPN.com, quoting unidentified Pac-12 officials, reported he threw a boxed lunch in anger during a Pac-12 Tournament meeting. Rush said he made changes during his time with the Pac-12. The best assignments were given out based on performance rather than seniority, and this rubbed some the wrong way.
As for the boxed lunch? “That is a stone-faced lie,” Rush said, adding that he used the lunch as a visual while trying to demonstrate a rule.
He has one regret.
“From my standpoint, I definitely made a mistake,” Rush said. “I said the wrong thing. It was inappropriate. Even though it was in jest, it was the wrong audience at the wrong time. But I come from an orientation where there’s a code. It’s unwritten but it’s pretty dag-gone strong. I learned way back early in my career that whatever goes on in the locker room amongst men, stays there. And if you have an issue, you take care of it within that group. … I didn’t realize that there was at least one (at the meeting) that didn’t know the code.”
Then again, Andy Katz’s ESPN.com report was damning.
“Ed Rush doesn’t joke,” one official said. “To say it was a joke is absolutely not true. If he meant it in jest, then he had time to correct it the second day and he didn’t. And the only coach he mentioned was Sean Miller.”
A man who doesn’t joke yet doesn’t take his job seriously may not be the most trustworthy zebra in the herd.