One day before Sean Miller received a technical foul in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals, director of officials Ed Rush offered referees cash or a vacation if they either issued Miller a foul or ejected him.
The conference confirmed today in a statement that Rush “offered game officials inappropriate incentives for being stricter with Pac-12 coaches.”
Rush, the league’s officiating coordinator for 11 months, told the league it was a joke.
CBSSports.com reported Miller was the target of the offer. The web site reported earlier today Rush offered officials $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they gave Miller a technical or ejection.
One day later, Miller received a technical foul with about four minutes left in the UCLA game, and the Wildcats lost by two points.
In a statement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the league “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 that the league has “discussed the matter with Rush, taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, and communicated our finders to all our officials.”
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne issued a statement shortly after 5 p.m. today. It read: “On Sunday, March 17, we first learned of the allegation of the events that occurred during the Conference Tournament. Due to the serious implications, we immediately shared our concerns with Commissioner Scott and the Conference office. We know that an investigation was held and any further issue is a matter for the Pac-12 office.”
On Twitter, forward Solomon Hill, who played his last game in Thursday's loss to Ohio State, sounded perturbed.
"I'm waiting for the Pac-12 to reveal it's just an April fools joke," he wrote.
On March 15, with 4:47 to play in the tournament semifinal, UA guard Mark Lyons was called for a double-dribble. Miller maintained that the call was wrong, because UCLA defender Jordan Adams put his hand on the ball.
"He touched the ball," Miller claimed he said to official Michael Irving before receiving the technical foul.
The coach was animated after the game, repeating "He touched the ball," over and over again.
It was Miller's first — and only — technical foul of the year.
"Didn't cuss," he said. "Didn't challenge 'em."