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Tension between Arizona, Pac-12
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 20, 2013 @ 10:00 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by George Schroeder, USA TODAY Sports
As the Pac-12 attempts to repair credibility in the wake of a controversy that cost the league’s coordinator of basketball officials his job, it might also need to repair its relationship with one of its highest-profile programs. Correspondence between Arizona and Pac-12 officials suggests relations already were strained before the Pac-12 Tournament, and that tensions might linger despite Ed Rush’s ouster.
Documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports from Arizona in response to a public records request show a flurry of communication and continuing disagreement over the circumstances surrounding the Wildcats’ two-point loss to UCLA in a tournament semifinal on March 15.
That was the game that led to a public reprimand and $25,000 fine for Arizona coach Sean Miller, both for his postgame confrontation with referee Michael Irving and for a subsequent outburst near a Pac-12 staff member minutes later. Two weeks later, CBSSports.com broke a story alleging that Rush, the league’s coordinator of officials, had promised cash and travel awards if officials called a technical foul on Miller or ejected him.
The documents show Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott had discussed the allegations against Rush much earlier. According to emails, the two men disagreed whether it and other factors should have been considered a mitigating circumstance in punishing Miller, who was incensed over a technical foul he was assessed by Irving with 4:37 left in the game against UCLA.
In an email March 17, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne asked Scott to consider a “condescending” email sent March 6 by Rush regarding Miller’s request for review of questionable calls in an earlier loss to UCLA. Days later, after learning of the allegations that Rush had offered $5,000 or a trip to Cancun to game officials to target Miller during the conference tournament, Byrne asked Scott to waive the $25,000 fine.
The commissioner declined. In a memorandum dated March 26, Scott wrote that more than a week since the public reprimand, he had “not seen any signs of contrition from Coach Miller” and had “not received any communication from him, nor have the official and staff member who were the … [For more on Documents spotlight tension between Arizona, Pac-12, click here.]
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