College Basketball Nation: Ed Rush

1. The new Big East has soccer and volleyball schedules for the fall despite not having a commissioner or staff yet. Each athletic director among the 10 was given a sport to work on scheduling along with the coaches from each school. The athletic directors are completely in the dark on the league's new commissioner; the decision is being made by the university presidents. Meanwhile, the schools are still waiting to hear from broadcast partner Fox about what nights they will typically play on during the conference season. Monday and Thursday doubleheaders are a possibility, but the use of pro arenas by Seton Hall, Providence, Villanova, Marquette, Georgetown and St. John's makes it hard to lock in just two nights per week for games.

2. Independent investigator Stu Brown of the Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller has submitted the report about the officiating controversy during the Pac-12 basketball tournament to league presidents for their spring meetings this weekend in Utah. The Pac-12 called for an outside report after Ed Rush, the coordinator of officials, resigned over allegations that he jokingly offered financial and other incentives for handing out a technical foul to Arizona coach Sean Miller. Officials also at the time told ESPN that Rush ruled through intimidation during his one year in the position. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and the presidents will review the investigation and determine if further action is needed. The Pac-12 is still seeking a replacement for Rush.

3. The high-profile challenge games between the ACC and Big Ten and the SEC and Big 12, neutral-site single games and neutral-site tournaments are making it harder for elite programs to set up true home-and-home series. Take Indiana, for example: The Hoosiers will play Notre Dame in Indianapolis at the Crossroads Classic, go to Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and play in the 2K Sports tournament with Connecticut, Boston College and Washington. That gives the Hoosiers four games away from Bloomington -- probably enough for a program that has to fund a number of sports. Kansas is one of the few top-10 programs that still plays true home-and-home series. KU had a series with Ohio State that wasn't tied to anything, and now has one with Georgetown. The Hoosiers have one game left to give, but likely will buy a home game instead of starting a new series on the road.

3-point shot: NBA deadline looming

April, 24, 2013
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1. A number of college stars still have major decisions to make this week on their NBA draft plans and, according to either coaches or family members, the decisions are down to 50-50 for Miami's Shane Larkin, Michigan State's Adreian Payne, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Louisville's Russ Smith and Baylor's Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. You can probably add Syracuse's C.J. Fair to this list of players still undecided as Sunday's NBA early-entry deadline looms. Miami and Creighton desperately need their All-Americans to return. If the Baylor players decide to stay, the Bears could be the third-best team in the Big 12. If they do not, Baylor might be lucky to be in the NIT.

2. The one-and-done rule gets all the headlines, but the number of transfers is what is stunting team growth and winning with consistency in a number of spots. Alabama had a chance to be a top-four SEC team, but that became much more difficult with the decision of Trevor Lacey to transfer. Tony Chennault wasn't a major contributor for Villanova after transferring from Wake Forest -- but he's on the move again in search of more playing time, while possibly sacrificing a chance to win. Players transfer for a host of reasons. But impatience is usually high on the list.

3. Pac-12 officials meets next week in Phoenix and, according to the league office, commissioner Larry Scott might not address the Ed Rush resignation in any great detail, nor will he get into the tension between the league and Arizona over the $25,000 fine levied against head coach Sean Miller. The league office contends that the Miller fine had nothing to do with the "jokes" Rush made at an officials meeting in which incentives were said to be offered for calling a technical against Miller; Rush has said he was joking, but wanted officials to enforce the rules on the court and in bench decorum. The league is conducting an internal investigation into the incident and how it was handled; a finding is due in June. Arizona wants Miller's fine rescinded, but there has been no indication that will occur.

Video: Ed Rush defends his actions

April, 10, 2013
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Former Pac-12 coordinator of officals Ed Rush talks to Shelley Smith about the comments about Arizona head coach Sean Miller that lead to his resignation.
Former Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush agreed to a question-and-answer session Friday night in response to the allegations made by a number of officials in the Pac-12 to ESPN and other media outlets.

The former long-time NBA official resigned from his position Thursday, after one season in the job.

Why did you joke about offering money and a trip to officials to enforce the rules in a meeting of the officials during the Pac-12 tournament?

Ed Rush: "I would call it stupid. I've done a lot of dumb things. This was top 10."

Why did you resign 48 hours after Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the comment wasn't a fireable offense?

"He didn't tell me to resign. He and I talked about affecting positive change. I felt bad what I was putting him through. I'm fine. I felt bad about all the energy that he was putting out to do damage control. I said something that was inappropriate and ill-timed. This doesn't feel good. That you're having to talk about this over and over again. We have to talk about whether I can be effective going forward.

"We barely made the changes. We made a few. I managed (former Pac-12 coordinator Bill McCabe's) staff. We were ready to make some dramatic changes that we thought would be good for the game. But to do that, we would have to have the 12 coaches believe in what we were doing. If you change the faces and get greater productivity. It takes a little while to change the faces. They're used to seeing the same people. We thought it was time for us to move on. We were going to move on. I was going to get together individually and collectively. We were working on putting this together and grading and integrity of the group. It was pretty neat. It was most dramatic change.

"We had the people in place. We had a plan in place. They were going to have to be real supportive. I felt it would be too difficult to do it based on the climate. I was going to have spend all my time getting back to the level of trust.

"I needed those guys to buy in and to me it was going to take the entire summer to just get back to square one and then at that point I didn't want to manage Bill's staff again and stand pat. It was one of those things where I love working with the D-League guys and (Division II) coached football for eight years and I missed it. I thought this would be better."

For the full Q-and-A, click here.

Video: Katz on Ed Rush's resignation

April, 4, 2013
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Andy Katz with the latest on Ed Rush resigning as the Pac-12's coordinator of men's basketball officiating.
On Tuesday afternoon, in the midst of his live interview with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, Scott Van Pelt described himself as "not a 'fire the guy' kind of guy." I'm stealing that phrase: I am not a "fire the guy" kind of guy, either. Usually the "fire the guy" reaction is too extreme, and I've never been particularly comfortable arguing that someone should lose his job, especially when that person isn't an overpaid coach getting $3 million just to go away.

So with that said, let's just get right to it: The Pac-12 needs to fire Ed Rush.

This is not the same as thinking Rush actively targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller, or that Rush has specifically violated the principles of his position as coordinator of Pac-12 officiating. When I first read Jeff Goodman's excellent reporting on the Pac-12's investigation into Rush's comments -- when Rush reportedly "told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either 'rang him up' or 'ran him,' meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game" -- I actually felt like Larry Scott's explanation, both to Van Pelt and ESPN.com's Andy Katz, made the most possible sense: He was joking. Of course he was! No one is actually that dumb, right? What do I have to do to get you to enforce the rules makes about eight metric tons more sense than a power-mad officiating coordinator run amok.

Guess what? Exactly none of what I just wrote matters. Not a single word.

This isn't just about an unfortunate joke. It's about the coincidence-or-not of Miller's technical foul against UCLA later that weekend. It's about Arizona fans specifically, and Pac-12 fans more generally, being forced to contemplate the motive behind game- and season-changing calls. It's about any fan base -- many of which are already convinced the world is out to get them, and the media hates them, and that it's all just so unfair -- being able to put something legitimate under that tin foil hat.

It's about perception. You might not trust coaches, who could be cheating to get recruits. You might not trust players, who could be ingesting illicit substances. You might not trust any of the various stakeholders when a win equals more money and fame and NBA exposure, but there are always some folks trying to shortcut the system ahead. We'll deal with them later.

You do have to trust the officials. You can make fun of them, you can want them to make better calls, you can ask them to stop preening for the camera, but at least you know, for better or worse, that they're trying to officiate the game fairly.

That is why Rush needs to go -- not because I'm willing to believe the Pac-12's head of officials is dumb enough to openly discuss a bounty at a well-attended meeting in Las Vegas, or because the technical was just too suspect, or any of that. He needs to go because he hurts the Pac-12's ability to tell all of its fans that its referees care about one thing only -- the integrity of the game.

Forget the coach's box. Once you lose that, what else is there?
1. Colorado coach Tad Boyle did follow up with Ed Rush, the Pac-12 coordinator of basketball officials, after last Thursday's controversial overtime victory for Arizona. Rush publicly defended the officials' call on overturning Sabatino Chen's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Rush did the same thing privately to Boyle. But Boyle said Rush admitted the officials didn't get a substitution call correct with under two minutes to go in the game. Arizona was allowed to sub in but Colorado wasn't, according to Boyle. That allowed a mismatch with Josh Scott on Solomon Hill, who ended up making a 3-pointer to cut CU's lead to five with 1 minute, 41 seconds remaining in regulation. Boyle said there was no hangover for the Buffs when they lost two days later at Arizona State. But he said this week's homestand should provide a great atmosphere, with USC and UCLA coming to Boulder. CU needs these wins to be a contender.

2. Lehigh coach Dr. Brett Reed said during our ESPNU podcast Monday morning that a decision still needs to be made about whether to surgically place a pin in C.J. McCollum's broken foot. He said every precaution is being taken since no one wants to mess with the senior guard's possible NBA career. I didn't get the sense that Reed is fully expecting McCollum to return anytime soon; to project that he might not come back this season wouldn't be a reach. Meanwhile, McCollum said the Mountain Hawks cannot panic. You can tell Reed is up for the challenge of trying to beat Bucknell in the Patriot League without McCollum.

3. Minnesota's Tubby Smith also joined us on the Monday podcast and said his team is ready for the gauntlet of at Illinois, at Indiana and home to Michigan. He said the squad finally being healthy is a major reason why the Gophers have turned around their program. Smith also has a scoring lead guard in Andre Hollins, Trevor Mbakwe is fully engaged in the team concept and Rodney Williams is playing his natural power-forward position.
It's fair to say Colorado coach Tad Boyle was frustrated by the officials' decision to use an inconclusive replay of a potential game-winning 3-pointer to reverse an on-court call at the end of Thursday's game against Arizona.

How frustrated?

Enough that he wants college basketball to take a dramatic step: Don't go to the monitor to decide a game on such a close call.

"Get rid of instant replay," Boyle told ESPN.com by phone from Tucson. "In basketball, football, human error is part of our game. If human error is part of the game, let the officials call the game. Players, coaches and officials will make mistakes. It's part of the game.

"We spend all this money on replays and we still can't get it right. Get rid of it."

Boyle hadn't seen the replay of Sabatino Chen's buzzer-beating 3-point bank shot until well after the game.

The shot, waved off by officials after a lengthy review, would have handed the Buffaloes a stunning 83-80 victory over No. 3 Arizona in the Pac-12 opener in Tucson.

Instead, Arizona completed a 17-point comeback to win 92-83 in overtime and remain undefeated.

"After the game, I was disappointed in myself and in the way we played down the stretch, but I hadn't seen the replay," Boyle said. "That was like a shot to the gut. We're going to move on and not cry about it and not complain about it, and we'll take it like men and hopefully get better."

But Boyle won't let it rest. He said his first call on Friday morning will be to Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush.

"I would like an explanation," Boyle said. "I think the University of Colorado deserves one and the players and administration and student body and everybody involved in Buff Nation deserves an explanation. It's not going to change the result. I've never been involved in something like this."

For Andy Katz's full story, click here.

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