Refs Withdraw from Big East Tourney

10 Mar

Rutger's Head Coach Mike Rice with the "C'mon Son" face in the first half of Rutgers' second round loss at the Big East Championship. Rutgers lost to St. John's 65-63 on Wednesday at MSG.

The three officials whose errors marred the end of the St. John’s-Rutgers Big East tournament game have voluntarily withdrawn from the rest of the tournament, the conference said.

The three officials — Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton — were criticized for failing to officiate until the final buzzer of the second-round game at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s beat Rutgers 65-63 on Wednesday. But Rutgers should have had another possession when the Red Storm’s Justin Brownlee, after stealing a pass from Rutgers’ Gilvydas Biruta, traveled while celebrating and stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds remaining, according to the ESPN broadcast.

Brownlee then hurled the ball into the stands as his coach, Steve Lavin, was walking down the sideline to shake the hand of Rutgers coach Mike Rice. By that time, the officials had left the court.

Of the game-ending sequence, John Adams, the NCAA’s national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz: “Not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable.”

In a statement, Big East conference commissioner John Marinatto said the officials withdrew “in the best interests of everyone involved — including coaches, student-athletes, game officials and Big East member institutions.”

“With three days of competition remaining, it is our hope that everyone will now focus on our outstanding teams and the exciting games ahead,” he said.

Rice, in a phone interview Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take,” said the three officials demonstrated accountability by withdrawing from the tournament. He praised the quality of referees in the Big East in general and the three referees in particular, but declined to say whether he would have liked to see them continue to work through the tournament.

“There’s accountability there. They didn’t have to do this,” Rice said of their withdrawal. “I’m sure besides my 13 players and my staff they probably feel just as bad about what happened.”

“They wanted to hold themselves accountable and they did what they did,” he added.

Marinatto acknowledged the errors in a statement released after Wednesday’s game.

“Both missed violations should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur prior to the end of the game,” Marinatto said. “Neither error is reviewable or correctable under NCAA playing rules.”
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2 Responses to “Refs Withdraw from Big East Tourney”

  1. Rob March 11, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    I’m sure they were pressured into this

  2. Erin March 11, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    Without a doubt!

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