USA Today broke a story on Sunday that there was tension between the University of Arizona and the Pac-12 regarding Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
It turns out that not only did former Pac-12 coordinator of basketball officials Ed Rush make the inappropriate comments that cost him his job, but he sent a condescending e-mail regarding Miller’s request to have the refereeing in the March 2 game at UCLA game reviewed. Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne asked Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott to review the e-mail and waive the fine Miller received for comments he made after the loss in light of the inappropriate comments, yet as we know, Scott instead backed Rush and refused to bend on Miller’s fine. Scott apparently refused since Miller did not show contrition.
One item from the article that is getting a lot of press is a comment from Arizona president Ann Weaver Hart. Byrne forwarded Scott’s refusal to act to Hart, who said, “We need to let this go now. You did your best.” Byrne went to Twitter today to defend Hart:
Wildcats, don’t let one line in an article confuse you….President Hart has been extremely supportive.
— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) April 21, 2013
I must say that this further weakens my confidence in Scott at the helm of the Pac-12. The good things Scott has done for the league do not seem to be the product of amazing leadership but rather good timing. And the bad things, DirecTV, Ed Rush, his handling of Miller, and a failure to recognize tradition, amongst other things, should leave fans scratching their head and wondering if the Pac-12 really has good leadership at the top. Scott’s handling of Rush in particular makes one wonder if the Pac-12 administration is really just a good ol’ boys network, protecting their own at the expense of a good league.
It is worth noting what some other people are saying about this latest news:
Scott told the Star via text message that he would not comment further while the Pac-12 is conducting an independent review, which is expected to be completed before a conference board meeting in June.
While the Pac-12 has a lot of work to do to restore a sense of credibility with its 12 member institutions, the latest findings suggest they’ll also need to mend a fence with one in particular.
The most telling part of that passage is the obvious disconnect here. Scott sees Miller’s actions as egregious; it’s pretty clear that everyone at Arizona — from the president on down — doesn’t see it the same way.
It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see what the independent probe of the officiating program turns up this summer. At the very least, it’s really not a good look for the Pac-12 to have relations so clearly frayed between the commissioner and one of its premier basketball programs.
I mean, if you’re Sean Miller, and your name comes up in connection with another high-profile job … let’s just say this is the sort of thing that could weigh into a decision whether to leave Arizona and, by extension, the Pac-12. And if the Pac-12 develops a reputation among coaches for treating its coaches unfairly, from the officiating program all the way up to the commissioner’s office? It just gets that much tougher to lure quality coaches to the league.