Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PHILLY HOOPS DEFLATION?

The Philadelphia area, long a breeding ground for referees and coaches, has taken a hit in recent years.

PHILLY HOOPS DEFLATION?

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Call it the Curse of Shields Tavern. Ever since the Drexel Hill bar that served as a gathering place for area coaches and referees, closed, many of its onetime habitues have found their names in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

 And with the recent resignations of Rutgers assistant Jimmy Martelli and Pac-12 officiating supervisor Ed T. Rush, the trend seems to be picking up speed.

 NBA official Joe Crawford, who grew up in Havertown, was caught up in a 1999 tax-evasion scandal. Then, eight years later, his fellow NBA ref, Tim Donaghy, a Drexel Hill native, was ensnared in a major scandal, accused of wagering on games he officiated. He eventually went to prison.

  In 2007, Broomall native Rene Portland, was pressured into resigning as Penn STate's women's basketball coach. A former player had filed a lawsuit charging that Portland cut her from the team because she was a lesbian. 

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 In 2010, the West Chester home of NBA ref Mark Wunderlich, another Delco product, was burglarized by a friend of his son.

 Now, on Thursday, Martelli, the son of St. Joseph's coach Phil, a Delaware County resident, resigned as a Rutgers assistant. He did so a day after his Rutgers boss, Mike Rice, a onetime Phil Martelli assistant at St. Joe's, was forced to quit.

 Videos surfaced of Rice physcially and verbally abusing his players. Martelli admitted that he had done the same, to such an extent apparently, that some players referreed to him as Baby Rice.

 And now comes word that Flourtown native and former NBA official Ed Rush, 69, a guiding light for Crawford, Donaghy and several other local referees who made it to the NBA, has resigned as supervisior of Pac-12 officials in the wake of a new scandal.

 Rush has been accused of offering conference officials $5,000 and a trip to Cancun to any who would target Arizona coach Sean Miller during the conference tournament last month.

 Rush, the former husband of basketball Hall of Famer Cathy Rush, who led Immaculata to three national titles, has said he was merely joking. And a Pac-12 probe appeared to confirm that. But a subsequent ESPN report noted that some league refs said they took Rush seriously and that there "was no laughing in the room".

 "Ed Rush doesn't joke," one official said. "To say it was a joke is absolutely not true. If he meant it in jest, then he had time to correct it the second day and he didn't. And the only coach he mentioned was Sean Miller."

 Miller, as it turned out, was slapped with a technical by referee Michael Irving during Arizona's loss to UCLA in a tournament semifinal.

 Maybe Jack Ramsay and Jimmy Lynam ought to be watching their backs.  

Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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About this blog
Reporter Frank Fitzpatrick, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist, is covering his eighth Olympic Games and has yet to win a medal in anything except caffeine consumption. He has also been the beat writer for the Phillies, Eagles and Penn State football.

Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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