Ed Rush's comments about Sean Miller weren't a fireable offense, Larry Scott says

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush's comments to target Sean Miller weren't a fireable offense, according to Larry Scott.

This isn't about Sean Miller's technical foul in the conference tournament semifinals, nor his fine thereafter. The issue coming out of the whole event and the accusations of Pac-12 coordinator of officials, Ed Rush, is about credibility in the Pac-12.

Commissioner Larry Scott went on the Scott Van Pelt show on Tuesday and said Rush's comments that reportedly put a bounty on Miller's head prior to the tournament were inappropriate but not unethical.

But ethics is exactly what this is about.

"What we found was Ed Rush ... he's very harsh on officials," Scott told Van Pelt. "Not only did we focus on Sean Miller but several coaches. That banter and discussion ... 'What do I got to do to get you guys to enforce the rules?' We're going to T a coach up if he doesn't listen to warnings. Do I got to give you a trip, do I got to give you money? It was clear that none of them (the officials) thought that there was a real bounty."

Scott said many right things. No matter how poor the technical foul call was on Miller, it's hard to stamp something so indirectly to Rush's comments. Referee Michael Irving, no matter if influenced by Rush's comments, called the T. Though it came at a silly time considering Miller's animated and often profanity-laced tirades have never earned him a technical, it is what it is.

Scott said that Miler's technical was for leaving the coaching box. Miller's repetitive "He touched the ball" speech after the game made it appear that he thought that he was called for a technical. But even the Arizona coach and opposing coach Ben Howland mentioned they knew there was more emphasis placed on leaving the coaching box. Whether Miller was warned for that indiscretion isn't known.

Howland was also called for a technical in the tournament, his first, according to Scott. That's more evidence that Miller wasn't the only target. But no matter who, it's the what and when of the postseason that's concerning.

Sure, the call by Irving might've been out of line in an important postseason game. That's not the issue anymore.

Neither is the $25,000 fine that Miller got after the game. The fine is misunderstood as well. It wasn't for the technical foul, nor his comments to the media.

Miller dropped some explicit language toward a referee after the game and then did the same to what Scott called an "innocent staff person" after the game.

Fair enough.

There problem at hand involves credibility. Rush' comments were said to be "in jest" but Scott couldn't give much evidence that was the case. He questioned Jeff Goodman's story that broke the controversy, saying that it was an unnamed source who talked to officials in the room. Scott said that all of the officials in Rush's meeting believed their leader's comments were a joke.

"It's completely inappropriate to joke ... you don't go there," Scott said of Rush's comments. "There's so much interpretation. It was very, very poor judgment.

"There was nothing unethical or any breach of integrity."

So if Miller is held responsible for his tirade after the game, as Van Pelt noted, why isn't Rush at least punished for his inappropriate comments? Rush, after all, has the reputation as a bully. He was also in the NBA during the league's dark days.

So Scott has put his name behind Rush. Van Pelt asked him during the radio interview how an Arizona fan can take another whistle from a Pac-12 official seriously.

The commissioner went back to his investigation taking the Goodman report quite seriously.

But whether Pac-12 fans in general will take Rush and his referees seriously again ever is the million-dollar question.

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