While the Pac-12 has responded to reports that officials coordinator Ed Rush offered inappropriate incentives to officials for being stricter with coaches, that does not affect Sean Miller's $25,000 fine, a league spokesman said tonight.
“They are two separate incidents,” Pac-12 spokesman Erik Hardenbergh said tonight. “The fine was a result from an earlier reprimand and his outburst following the (March 15 UA-UCLA) game in Las Vegas. The fine was in no way related to the inappropriate comments” from Rush.
Two days after the Arizona-UCLA game, Miller was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 for confronting an official immediately after the game and for “acting inappropriately” toward a conference staff member later. Miller did not issue a statement after the fine, did not show up the next day at his weekly news conference, and declined to say if he would pay it when asked on March 20 in Salt Lake City.
A UA spokesman said Monday evening that Miller would not comment and UA athletic director Greg Byrne also declined to comment when reached Monday. However, Byrne has indicated consistent support of Miller in statements.
After the fine was announced on March 17, Byrne said on Twitter only that he was “aware” of the fine and that “I’m glad Sean Miller is our coach.”
In his statement Monday, Byrne said:
“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.”
CBSSports first reported that Rush told a group of officials during the Pac-12 Tournament that he would reward officials with an expenses-paid vacation or $5,000 in cash if they assessed a technical foul on or ejected Miller. Those comments were inappropriate but made “in jest,” according to a statement from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
Rush reiterated before the Arizona-UCLA semifinal on March 15 that officials should take action if Miller did anything during that game, according to CBSSports.
Miller was whistled for a costly technical foul against UCLA, after disputing a turnover call on Mark Lyons with 4:37 left because he believed a UCLA player touched the ball.
The Wildcats ended up losing 66-64 after leading by 11 points in the second half, and Miller vehemently protested after the game without directly blaming officials.
“The reason I got a technical foul is because I said, `He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball,’ “ Miller said after the game. “That's a hard one now when you work August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and here we are.”
Rush works on a year-to-year contract with the Pac-12. If he is retained, there may be questions about his relationship with Miller in the future.
While Scott did not return a call from the Star, the Seattle Times was able to reach Scott and asked if relations between Rush and Arizona can be reconciled.
Scott responded by telling the Times: "Based on the review I had ordered on this issue, it was clear that the point Ed Rush was trying to make was about coaches' behavior and decorum generally."