PHOENIX – The Pac-12 said Monday that coordinator of officials Ed Rush was joking when he told officials to target Arizona coach Sean Miller during internal meetings before the conference tournament.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the conference investigated a CBSSports.com report that Rush offered a group of officials $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they hit Miller with a technical foul or ejected him during the tournament.
It concluded that Rush was not serious in offering the incentives.
"I consider the integrity of our officiating program to be of the highest importance and immediately ordered a review of the matter," Scott said in a statement. "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. Following our review, we have discussed the matter with Rush, taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, and communicated our findings to all of our officials."
Miller was hit with a technical foul during the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament against UCLA for arguing a late double-dribble call against Wildcats guard Mark Lyons.
Arizona lost the game 66-64 and Miller went on a memorable postgame rant about the technical foul, waving his arms while repeating, "He touched the ball" five times in a row. He was later hit with a $25,000 fine from the Pac-12 for what the conference said was for confronting an official on the floor and acting inappropriately toward a staff member in the hallway.
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said the school contacted the Pac-12 office after learning of Rush's alleged offer against Miller.
"On Sunday, March 17, we first learned of the allegation of the events that occurred during the conference tournament," Byrne's statement said. "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."
Rush is a former NBA official who also served as the league's director of officiating. He was a consultant to the Pac-12 before becoming conference coordinator of officials last year.