Instead of replacing resigned coordinator Ed Rush, the Pac-12 has blown up its officiating structure.
Five days after the release of a league-commissioned investigation into its officiating program, which found Rush improperly prodded his officials into closely monitoring Arizona coach Sean Miller, the Pac-12 announced it would form an alliance with the Mountain West Conference and other Western Division I conferences.
Essentially, the alliance means the Pac-12 and Mountain West officiating will be overseen by current Mountain West coordinator Bobby Dibler, while the West Coast Conference, Big West and Western Athletic conferences will have different oversight but similar training structures in the interests of consistency.
Since officials are independent contractors, many of them work more than one conference, anyway. Shortly after he became then-Pac-10 commissioner in 2009, Larry Scott said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told him there was a need to collaborate. After Rush resigned in April, Scott found the "timing was right" to do so.
"Knowing that Ed Rush resigned, it was very natural that we would take a step back and look at the program to either replace Ed or try to look at a fresh perspective," Scott said Friday on a conference call to announce the partnership. "We did a deep dive into how officiating works, the independent contracts and … (how) that makes consistency and accountability tougher."
Now, officials throughout the West will receive similar training, while Mountain West and Pac-12 officials will be graded in the same manner.
Scott and Thompson declined to specify details on how the pool of officials would be structured, but Thompson said the pay scales would probably be different between the two leagues. That could suggest that the highest-performing officials will be assigned priority for high-paying Pac-12 games.
Thompson also said Dibler's program will now adopt many of the processes the Pac-12 had in place under Rush last season.
"One of the differences is we have not used evaluators per se, and that's something we're looking forward to," Thompson said. "Accountability is very important going forward with the 23 athletic directors we will be working with in the Pac-12 and Mountain West."
Another major goal of the alliance is to improve schedules of officials working multiple leagues, by concentrating consecutive games in corridors such as Northern California, Southern California or Utah.
For example, Dibler could assign an official working a Utah State game one night for the Mountain West to work a Utah game the next night for the Pac-12 - instead of having to work a more-distant game the night before and flying into Utah.
The alliance could also mean officials turn down out-of-region assignments in favor of working within the region, keeping them presumably fresher.
"We would prefer they stay west of Denver," Thompson said. Sometimes "we see an official working a Wednesday night game who was working on Tuesday across the country. I don't know if that's in the best interests of the game.
"With Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Northern California, Utah - you've got tons of pockets where these guys can stay and not have to travel all day to get to an assignment."
• Arizona will hold a fourth annual "white out" promotion on Dec. 7 in a game against UNLV at McKale Center, Miller announced on Twitter. The Wildcats are 1-2 when their fans are asked to wear white for a game, and Miller said after they lost 84-73 to UCLA in last season's white-out game that he thought UA would "retire" the promotion.
• After working out for the Suns earlier this week, former UA forward Grant Jerrett told reporters in Phoenix that he did not regret leaving the Wildcats after one season to turn professional. "I'm happy I did it," said Jerrett, who has also worked out for the Bulls, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Pacers.
• Miller offered support via Twitter to the family of former Miami (Ohio) coach Charlie Coles, who died Friday at 71. Miller and Coles worked under now-ASU coach Herb Sendek at Miami in 1994-95, when Miami upset UA in the first round of the NCAA tournament. "A great coach, an even better person!" Miller tweeted.