Ed Rush, head of officials for the Pac-12, has resigned after allegations surfaced that he offered $5,000 and a trip to Cancun to any referee who targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller.
The Pac-12 conducted an investigation that found "every official interviewed confirmed 'nobody thought they were getting a reward.'" Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the offers were merely an inappropriate joke intended as a "'point of emphasis' to crack down on coach misconduct on the sideline before the Pac-12 tournament semifinal." Despite these findings, Rush resigned.
Andy Katz spoke with several Pac-12 officials who seemingly disputed the findings and reiterated that the sentiment in the room was that Rush was not joking. The officials were present when Rush made the joke twice on the Thursday before the semifinal and again Friday after Miller had been given a technical foul by referee Michael Irving during Arizona's semifinal loss to UCLA.
"Ed Rush doesn't joke," one official said. "To say it was a joke is absolutely not true. If he meant it in jest, then he had time to correct it the second day and he didn't. And the only coach he mentioned was Sean Miller."
Officials confirmed that Rush went into the meeting before the UCLA-Arizona game and was banging a chair up and down, demanding the officials perform at a higher level. And then, according to the officials, Rush hurled a boxed lunch against the wall after the game, nearly hitting one of the officials in the head.
"It was absolutely a form of bullying," one official said.
Whether any officials felt they were actually getting $5,000 or a free trip to Mexico is not really the point anymore, though it's easy to see why the Pac-12 is distancing itself from the reward angle. The actual exchange of money or benefits is much seedier than bullying.
It doesn't matter if a game is influenced because a referee thinks he's getting some easy cash, or because he feels compelled by a superior, the end result—or at the very least, the perception—is that the game is no longer on the level. Rush stepping down was the only way to move on from this mess.
Pac-12's Ed Rush resigns [ESPN]