Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said today there was nothing unethical nor any "breach of integrity” when officials coordinator Ed Rush asked the conference’s officials to more critically watch Arizona’s Sean Miller and other Pac-12 coaches.
However, Scott also made it clear during his interviews with ESPN Radio and Pac-12 Networks today that Rush’s position will be determined after the conference holds its annual reviews with coaches, athletic directors and officials. Rush and the conference officials work on year-to-year contracts.
“We do a 360-degree review of the (officiating) program – talk to the coaches, talk to the athletic directors and talk to the officials,” Scott told ESPN. After that “we’re going to weigh what’s been the impact of this on Ed’s ability to continue and we will make a decision.”
Scott told ESPN Radio that he launched an independent investigation headed by the conference’s director of enforcement after learning of the allegations by a journalist on March 17, the day Miller was fined $25,000 for his outburst following the March 15 Arizona-UCLA game in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
He said on Pac-12 Networks that the conference’s interviews and promises of confidentiality to officials gave the Pac-12 a “very good handle on what was discussed.”
“We came to the determination that a lot of the comments were inappropriate but there was no breach of integrity, or any incentives offered or any targeting of individual coaches,” Scott said.
On ESPN Radio, Scott said that the investigation found that when Rush addressed his officials on March 14 and 15 that he was trying to prod them into better corralling the emotions of the game and keeping the coaches in their coaching box.
“What we found was that Ed Rush was being very hard on the officials because he didn’t think they were doing the job of containing the coaches; the coaches’ decorum was getting out of control,” Scott told ESPN. He was “not solely focused on coach Miller but on several coaches. That started a banter and discussion about `What do I have to do to get you guys to enforce the rules? … Do I gotta give you a trip or do I gotta give you money?’ “
“Our investigators asked very pointed questions and it was clear that no one thought there was a real bounty, that Ed was making a point to emphasize, to try to shock them into being more firm in their approach.”
Scott said Miller has already paid his $25,000 fine, which he maintained was for a separate issue involving Miller’s postgame confrontation with an official and a subsequent incident with a conference staffer.
Miller had been called for a technical foul in Arizona’s two-point loss to UCLA for arguing a turnover call on Mark Lyons when he believed a UCLA player jabbed at the ball, thus making the turnover call incorrect. Miller said repeatedly during his postgame news conference that he did not swear and noted only that a UCLA player “touched the ball,” but Scott said Miller yelled “obscenities” at an official immediately after the game.
“He said he got the tech for saying, `I touched the ball.’ He got the technical foul for leaving the coaching box. It was the third communication they had with him during that game," Scott said.
There were “two instances of verbal abuse after the game (that Miller was fined for). One was going out on court, getting in the grill of the official, which you don’t do after a game in front of the crowd. Secondly in the hallway, an innocent staff person standing there, he laced into, ripped into. You are role model, a leader of student athletes, you represent your university. We hold these coaches to high standards of behavior. These things coach (Miller) had quietly been warned about early in the season. There is a high threshold for a coach to be fined.”