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Rush on resignation: 'It had to be done'

Ed Rush, embattled after a controversy involving Pac-12 officiating this week, resigned Thursday as coordinator of the conference's officials.

"I just hit the send button," Rush said Thursday from his home in Phoenix. "It's unfortunate, but it was something that had to be done."

Rush said he issued his resignation letter after discussions with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who initially supported the first-year coordinator of officials upon revelation of the turn of events that eventually led to Rush's ouster.

"The commissioner asked me if I would consider negating the noise that's out there, especially at Arizona," Rush said. "He has been terrific to me. I didn't want to put any more of this on him."

The firestorm around Rush, 70, centered on his comments to a group of referees during the Pac-12 tournament at Las Vegas.

Reports surfaced that Rush told the referees he would offer a trip to Cancun or $5,000 if they gave a technical foul to Sean Miller or tossed the Arizona coach from the Wildcats' semifinal game against UCLA.

Miller was subsequently hit with a controversial technical -- his first of the season -- late in the Bruins' 66-64 victory.

Rush -- a longtime NBA referee who served five years as the league's director of officiating -- offered perspective on what led to his comments to the officiating crew. He said that before the season the NCAA sent out three points of emphasis to its referees.

"The first was on bench decorum," Rush said. "Three times during the season, reminders were sent out from the national office about it. (In the Pac-12), I was the messenger, trying to give (referees) techniques on how to manage the emotions of the game."

Arizona beat Colorado 79-69 in a second-round Pac-12 tournament game in which the coaches, Miller and Tad Boyle, crossed the line in terms of behavior in Rush's estimation. In his postgame meeting with the referees, "I told them they'd done a good job calling the game, but just understand one thing -- the game cried out for bench warnings to both coaches," Rush said.

In his pregame meeting with another crew prior to the Arizona-UCLA game, Rush again addressed the situation.

"I didn't say they had to call a technical foul," Rush said. "I did suggest if things got (out of hand), bring the coaches together and have a bench warning.

"In an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, I said, 'What's it going to take? Maybe I ought to give somebody a trip to Cancun, or a $5,000 reward.' This was not pointed toward one specific coach. In (the upcoming) game, both coaches.

"Everybody in the room was laughing. I said, 'I know -- you'd probably take the money. But (wife) Trudy) would never let me spend that kind of money on you guys.' It was all in jest. Everybody knew that."

At least one referee took it seriously enough to bring it to the attention of the Pac-12 office. A few days later, Rush's tenure with the conference was over.

"What I said was stupid, ill-timed," he said. "I regret that I cast a negative light on the Pac-12 because of this situation."

Rush said the technical foul called on Miller by referee Michael Irving in the UCLA game was "an overreaction" to the emphasis on enforcing coaching conduct rules.

The Arizona coach was upset about a double-dribble call on point guard Mark Lyons, arguing that a UCLA player got a hand on the ball before Lyons picked it up. Miller went outside the coaching box to protest -- he claimed he didn't direct any profanities toward officials at the time -- and was given a technical by Irving.

"We were incorrect (on the call)," Rush said. "Sean was bringing it to (the officials') attention -- and rightfully so -- that the ball was tipped. He had been warned twice (for being outside the coaching box). It was an automatic reaction (by Irving) when (Miller) stepped out onto the court. But it's hard to defend that technical foul call."

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