- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2008

An attorney hired by the NBA to review its officiating program in the wake of a referee gambling scandal said Thursday that he found no evidence of wrongdoing by any official other than Tim Donaghy, but recommended the creation of an “integrity hotline” as well as greater access to referees by fans and the media.

The 116-page report by former federal prosector Lawrence Pedowitz comes as Donaghy is serving a 15-month prison sentence relating to bets he placed on games he officiated during the 2006-2007 season. Pedowitz’s report affirms the contention of NBA Commissioner David Stern that Donaghy acted as a lone, rogue referee. Pedowitz also said he found no evidence that any of Donaghy’s calls affected the outcome of any games, though Donaghy declined to be interviewed.

In reviewing the NBA’s officiating standards and its policies toward gambling, Pedowitz issued several recommendations, many of which involve “tightening up” the league’s rules. For instance, he recommended the NBA explicity prohibit the disclosure of confidential information about players and teams. Currently, such a prohibition is only implied.

Pedowtiz also recommended the NBA be more specific in outlining what type of gambling league employees could participate in.

Other recommendations include:

c The public release of referee assignments.

c Enhancement of gambling education programs.

c The hiring of a League Compliance Officer.

c A hotline to allow for league employees to anonymously raise questions and report problems relating to gambling and other issues of integrity.

The NBA has, on its own, already enacted some of the recommendations, including the hiring of Army Major General (Ret.) Ronald L. Johnson as the league’s Senior Vice President of Referee Operations.

In a statement, Stern said he encouraged Pedowitz and his staff to conduct another review at the end of the season.

“We are very appreciative of the effort by Mr. Pedowitz and his staff considering the extraordinary nature of the review,” Stern said. “Mr. Pedowitz, who together with his team conducted approximately 200 interviews, was given the broadest possible mandate and was provided unfettered access to our employees, records, data and video library to ensure the independence and thoroughness of his report.”