NBA Changes Referee Operations After Seeking Disgraced Official's Phone Records

Published July 22, 2008

| FoxNews.com

The National Basketball Association, stung by a former referee's confession that he passed on inside information to gamblers, announced Monday that it has restructured its Referee Operations department.

The announcement came one week after FOXNews.com reported exclusively that phone records revealed that disgraced referee Tim Donaghy called a second referee, Scott Foster, scores of times before and after games during the 2006-2007 season, when Donaghy was betting and passing on information to gamblers.

FOXNews.com reported Friday that the league was trying to obtain those phone records.

According to the NBA press release, the league has appointed Bernie Fryer to Vice President and Director of Officials. Fryer will oversee the day-to-day management and on-court performance of NBA referees.

Other changes include the repositioning of two NBA executives: Joe Borgia to Vice President, Referee Operations, and Ronnie Nunn to the position of Director of Development.

Fryer and Borgia will report to recently hired United States Army Major General Ron Johnson, who was brought on to manage all aspects of the NBA’s officiating program.

"This restructuring, together with the recent hiring of Ron Johnson, ensures that our referees are being managed, trained and developed by a group of first-rate, dedicated professionals," Joel Litvin, NBA President, League and Basketball Operations, said in the press release.

“We are moving forward. This is just another step. The goal is to be as productive as we can," NBA Vice President of Basketball Communications Tim Frank said.

It is unclear if these changes result directly from recent attempts by attorney Lawrence Pedowitz and others working with the NBA’s internal investigation to obtain Donaghy’s phone records — and any additional sealed court documents relating to Foster.

The phone records obtained by FOXNews.com showed that Donaghy made 134 phone calls to Foster between October 2006 and April 2007.

Donaghy, 41, is awaiting sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court on July 29 for his involvement in the gambling scheme. He faces up to 33 months in prison.

Thomas Martino of Boothwyn, Pa., and James Battista of Phoenixville, Pa., who both served as "middlemen" in the ring have also pleaded guilty to federal charges. The pair face up to 18 and 16 months in prison, respectively, when they’re sentenced July 24.

Last summer, NBA commissioner David Stern called Donaghy a “rogue isolated criminal,” and he has stuck to that statement ever since. But now, in the wake of FOXNews.com’s investigative report detailing calls from Donaghy to Foster during the 2006-2007 season, Pedowitz’s team is looking into the case.

The NBA is expected to issue a report on its investigation of the gambling scandal in the coming months.

“As David Stern has said last year, we’ve asked to speak to Mr. Donaghy," Frank said. "When we know whether or not that is going to happen, Pedowitz will be able to determine when or how the report will be released.”

Click here to read FOXNews.com's exclusive report, which was published Monday.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/07/22/nba-changes-referee-operations-after-seeking-disgraced-official-phone-records