Former Pac-12 Conference coordinator of officials Ed Rush says he was just trying to "lighten the mood" in a tense locker room when he "jokingly" made offers of $5,000 or a trip to Mexico for any referee who called a technical foul on Arizona coach Sean Miller during the league tournament.
In his first interview since reports surfaced of the incident that forced his resignation, Rush told The Associated Press on Thursday night that the comments were "absolutely, 100 percent said in jest." He believes the remarks were leaked out by officials who were unhappy with his overall handling of the Pac-12 program and wanted to tarnish his reputation. Rush said he made his remarks at the "wrong place, wrong time, wrong audience."
Joking or not, perception proved to be too much for Rush to remain in his job. He resigned after comments during internal meetings before the league tournament that appeared to target Miller, including perceived accusations that he placed a bounty on the coach.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry 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."
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.
Rutgers: The call from faculty members and politicians to oust top Rutgers University administrators grew louder Thursday, a day after men's basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for mistreating players, shoving them and berating them with gay slurs.
More than 50 faculty members signed a letter calling for the dismissal of athletic director Tim Pernetti and an explanation from president Robert Barchi for why he didn't fire Rice last year when he learned of a video showing Rice's behavior during practices.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney also called for Pernetti to step down or be fired.
Also, a Rutgers athletic department spokesman confirmed that assistant coach Jimmy Martelli had left the program. Martelli's decision was first reported by The Star-Ledger. The newspaper also reported that Martelli was seen in a portion of the video that was not broadcast on television shoving a player during a practice.
Honors: Trey Burke, the sophomore point guard who led Michigan to the Final Four, has been selected AP's college basketball player of the year. Jim Larranaga, who led Miami to the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, was selected coach of the year.
Ware on Letterman: Kevin Ware might have a future as a comedian. The Louisville guard was at ease as he presented the Top 10 List on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Thursday, even tossing in a barb at Letterman's late-night rival Jay Leno. Ware has become something of a celebrity since his right tibia snapped during the first half of Sunday's Midwest Regional final against Duke.
Among the top 10 list of "Thoughts going through Kevin Ware's mind" after he broke his leg:
3. "They fired Leno?"
2. "Heat then ice? Or ice then heat?"
1. "At least my bracket's not busted."