Donaghy questions unanswered

August, 15, 2007
OK, so we know Tim Donaghy stood ramrod straight in court, and we know he spoke in a barely audible voice.

We know he is now a convicted felon, we know he had to surrender his passport, and we know the amount of the fine and restitution he is going to have to find a way to pay.

And, according to the court documents released today, we know that Donaghy "compromised [his] objectivity as a referee because of [his] personal financial interest in the outcome of NBA games."

But what we still don't know, and what remain the biggest unanswered questions in this entire scandal, are these: How and when did Donaghy use his whistle to manipulate the outcome of games he officiated?

We may never know the answer, although there is a chance we will find out on Nov. 9 when Donaghy is sentenced. That's because under federal sentencing guidelines, the severity of Donaghy's penalty will be reduced if he cooperates with his victim, which in this case is the NBA.

What would have to happen would be for the NBA to request a meeting with Donaghy at which league officials could ask him any question they wanted -- and you could be certain that the NBA has about 8,000 questions it wants answered by the man at the center of the biggest scandal it has faced.

If Donaghy were to cooperate and answer all the league's questions truthfully, that information would be relayed to the judge presiding over the case. If Donaghy were to refuse to cooperate with the NBA, that, too, would be relayed to the judge, and it would not benefit Donaghy.

And since this is a man facing the prospect of serving up to 25 years in prison, you'd figure he'll do what he has to do to get the most lenient sentence possible.

Donaghy will also have to answer questions from the court during his sentencing regarding the specifics of what he did to break the law. It's possible the questions of how and when he used his whistle to affect the outcome of games he worked will come up in that forum, although there are no guarantees they will.

The bottom line in all this is that, for the foreseeable future, we won't have any definitive answers to the most serious questions in this story. We may get some of them on Nov. 9, but then again we may not. It's going to be a long three months of waiting until we find out.



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