Ed Rush incident to undergo independent investigation

USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Oregon State President Edward J. Ray announce that the conference will be looking further into the comments by coordinator of officials Ed Rush and the actions of his referees at the Pac-12 Tournament last month.

Well, this is quite the change: What Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott once thought wasn't bad enough to be a "fireable offense" has now blown up into a full independent investigation in the events around Ed Rush's comments at the Pac-12 tournament in March.

"After considering the matter, Commissioner Scott and I agree that an independent review is important to maintain the confidence of our members, and of the public, in the integrity of our competition," Oregon State President Edward J. Ray said in a Pac-12 news release, "While the review will focus primarily on the tournament, we expect that it will inform a broader examination of our men’s basketball officiating and help us provide the best possible program."

The fact that this statement is coming from Ray -- the Pac-12 CEO Group Chair, meaning he's the head of the university presidents -- likely is significant. Reading between the lines, it appears that there's been some blowback on Scott from the universities themselves for how this situation was handled.

“Nothing is more important to the Pac-12, or to me personally, than maintaining confidence in our integrity," Scott said. "Given the conflicting media reports, it is important that we do whatever we can to understand all the facts, not only to resolve the questions about officiating during the tournament but also to learn lessons that will help us make changes and improvements to our overall program.”

Scott was steadfast in his assessment that Rush was handled correctly after the coordinator of officials made comments that he would give cash or a trip to anyone who gave Arizona coach Sean Miller one or more technical fouls in the Pac-12 tournament. Scott also maintained that Rush did a great job of handling the officiating program while he was the coordinator of officials, but it appears there is some doubt amongst the member institutions as to the veracity of that assertion.

But there were some serious cracks in the unity of the conference on this one. While most everything Scott has done has been met with applause, there were no tears shed by anyone when Rush resigned a couple of days after the news broke. And comments from some of the officials to Andy Katz about how the officiating program was being run certainly had to trouble the various stakeholders at the 12 institutions -- while Scott said everyone understood Rush to be kidding about the bounty, at least one referee is on record as saying essentially, "he might have been kidding about the bounty, but he most certainly was not joking about Miller."

I'm not sure what will come out of this, but for a conference that has been hammered by fans and media alike for its bad officiating, any appearance that it's examining itself will add a bit of legitimacy to changes going forward. And that's a good thing.

The review is expected to be completed before the presidents' meeting in June.

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