If Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott initially believed the Ed Rush controversy wouldn't have a long shelf life, the sustained outcry of the past few days have proven that was a miscalculation.
As a result, the saga reached is inevitable outcome Thursday night when the Pac-12 and its coordinator of officiating parted ways.
“My first and highest concerns have always been the integrity of the game of basketball and the honor of the craft of officiating," Rush said in a statement announcing his resignation. "While I am proud of what we have accomplished, my decision to resign reflects my strong desire to see the Pac-12 officiating program continue to grow and thrive."
The resignation of Rush comes three days after a CBSSports.com report revealed he told a group of referees during the Pac-12 tournament they would be rewarded with $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they ejected Arizona coach Sean Miller or assessed him a technical foul. Scott initially backed Rush and insisted the comments were an inappropriate joke that none of the referees took seriously, but the fan and media response of the past few days has shown why it doesn't matter if what was said was in jest or not.
As I wrote Monday night, all that matters is Rush's comments create the perception that a particular coach or school is being treated differently than anyone else. In a post-Tim Donaghy world, referees cannot even joke about giving preferential treatment to one side or the other because the credibility of the game instantly comes into question.
Fans are already passionate enough to allege bias against their teams when a call doesn't go their way. Had Rush kept his job, Arizona fans would have screamed that their team was being cheated every time a call went in favor of their opponents and opposing fans would have accused the league of over-correcting every time the Wildcats got a call.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero clearly understood the severity of Rush's comments when asked about them Tuesday.
"I'm very concerned about that whole deal," Guerrero said. "The spotlight is always on officiating. There's always concern about the integrity of the game as it relates to that, and certainly this really puts a black eye on the conference and the conference officiating. Whether it was in jest or it was not in jest, there was a judgment issue that goes into play there."
Scott and Rush apparently came around to the same realization. As a result, the Pac-12 is looking for a new coordinator of officials.