Weird Week In College Hoops

Pac-12 director of officials Ed Rush AP photo

The world of college sports has witnessed behaviors recently that range from the merely awkward to the almost unfathomable.

Starting with the awkward, Steve Alford took the UCLA job less than a week after agreeing to a 10-year extension with New Mexico and declaring he loved the Lobos and would be there for the rest of his career, blah blah blah. Whoosh, out the door just days later.

It amazes me that while players are forced to sit out a year if they transfer, coaches are able to renege on signed contracts with hardly a backward glance. I wonder how long it will be until some athletic director says, “Hey, wait a minute, we’re holding you to this contract,” just like the real world. Nowadays, the default position is to put large buyouts in the contract to try to prevent premature departures. Haven’t heard whether Alford had a big buyout or who is going to pay it if he did.

* Pac-12 director of officials Ed Rush had no choice but to resign last Friday. The former NBA ref offered $5,000 cash or a Cancun vacation to any Pac-12 official who would call a technical foul or eject Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott initially said the offer was made in jest, but apparently Rush liked the joke so much that he repeated it the next day on the eve of the Pac-12 tournament. An official actually did tee up Miller in the UCLA game, won 66-64 by the Bruins – thus affecting Arizona’s playoff seeding. No word on whether the ref took the cash, the trip or Door No. 3. It was, by the way, Miller’s first technical foul of the season.

* Now to former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, who was sanctioned last December for abusive behavior toward players, evidenced on a video shown to athletic director Tim Pernetti and investigators he hired. Pernetti fined Rice $75,000, suspended him for three games and informed the coach of a zero-tolerance policy on such behavior in the future. But former staff member Eric Murdock took the video to ESPN, which aired for the entire country shots of Rice shoving, kicking and throwing balls at players from point-blank range, accompanied by rants and insults, including homophobic slurs. The video was so damning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and assorted state politicians called for Rice’s dismissal. The next day, Rutgers fired the coach.

It appears that there was a pervasive pattern of abuse, and quite a few people were aware of it. The wonder is that Rice lasted as long as he did.

Friday was a good day for resignations, as Pernetti also left Rutgers that day.

* NCAA president Mark Emmert is being linked to a coverup of a $100 million construction fiasco while president at the University of Connecticut, as well as soft-pedaling a major academic fraud by LSU athletics while he was chancellor there. So far, Emmert has stayed one step ahead of the posse, but he’s got to be hearing hoof beats approaching right about now.