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Pac-12’s head official resigns

– Ed Rush resigned Thursday as the Pac-12 Conference’s basketball coordinator of officials following comments during internal meetings before the league tournament that appeared to target Arizona coach Sean Miller.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement that “I want to express my appreciation for the great contribution Ed made to basketball officiating for the Conference during his tenure, particularly in the area of training and the cultivation of new officiating talent.”

Scott told The Associated Press a day earlier that Rush’s remarks were part of an overall “point of emphasis” to crack down on coach misconduct on the sideline before the Pac-12 tournament semifinal. In the course of that presentation, he said Rush made an “inappropriate joke” that included offers of $5,000 and a trip to Cancun if they called a technical foul on Miller.

An investigation done by the Pac-12’s head of enforcement, Ron Barker, found that every official interviewed confirmed “nobody thought they were getting a reward,” Scott said. The public perception of inappropriate behavior still proved to be too much.

Rush is a former NBA official who also served as the league’s director of officiating. He had been a consultant to the Pac-12 since 2007 before becoming conference coordinator of officials last year.

The conference’s search for a new lead official will be part of its previously scheduled annual review at the end of the month in Phoenix.

Officials whistled Miller for a technical foul during the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament against UCLA for arguing a late double-dribble call against Wildcats guard Mark Lyons. Arizona lost 66-64.

Miller went on a postgame rant about the technical foul and was hit with a $25,000 fine from the Pac-12 for what the conference said was confronting an official on the floor and acting inappropriately toward a staff member in the hallway.

Scott had said Arizona officials alerted him to Rush’s remarks the night of March 17, a day after the league tournament. He said he launched an investigation into the matter the next day, and he concluded that it was not a “fireable offense,” just a bad joke that has stained the Pac-12’s official program.

“It had been a point of emphasis during the season, coach behavior on the sideline, for the language that’s used, etc.,” Scott told the AP. “He was emphasizing it and he was challenging them.”

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