NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Big East commissioner John Marinatto said Thursday that three officials “voluntarily” withdrew themselves from this week’s tournament at MSG following an uproar over Wednesday’s blown call during St. John’s-Rutgers.

The New York Post paints a different picture, reporting that the refs “were told to put away their whistles.”

“Although Burr declined to be interviewed after the Red Storm’s 65-63 win, and Higgins did not return calls to his office,” wrote the paper, “a referee in another conference and other sources told The Post the three were given an ultimatum: Fall on your sword or be decapitated.”


Veteran refs Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton missed two calls in the final seconds — a travel and stepping out of bounds — in the final 1.7 seconds that handed St. John’s a second-round victory.

The Big East acknowledged after the game the officials blew the calls. Marinatto said the three officials “voluntarily” withdrew in “the best interests of those involved.”

“In the best interests of everyone involved — including coaches, student-athletes, game officials and Big East member institutions — the officials who were assigned to the St. John’s-Rutgers game Wednesday have voluntarily withdrawn for the remainder of the 2011 Big East championship,” Commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement. “With three days of competition remaining, it is our hope that everyone will now focus on our outstanding teams and the exciting games ahead.”

Marinatto called the league’s officials a “very dedicated and loyal group of professionals.” Last year, Burr worked the Big East semifinals and Higgins the championship game.

“Was there a mistake made? I saw it on YouTube. There was a mistake made,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice told WFAN’s Mike Francesa after the game. “I’m sure they’ll admit it. … Believe me, there’s going to be blood coming through my tongue right now, but it is what it is. We’re going to control how we respond.”

Burr has worked 16 Final Fours, the first in 1985, the last in 2006, and has done seven national championships games. Higgins has worked 10 Final Fours, the first in 1988, the last in 2004, and has done four national championship games.

Walton has never worked a Final Four.

How would you grade the work of Burr, Higgins and Watson? Let us know in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (10)
  1. lised says:

    It is interesting that people think the officials purposefully blew the call or even were paid to blow the game. Wonder how many have ever been a game official? Yes, the travel and out-of-bounds were not called for whatever reason. But observe the coaches out of the box and there seems to be an assumption the game is over. That is not an excuse but the Big East needs to look at bench decorum.

  2. Soup says:

    if you watch the replay, the 2 officals following the play are not watching the ball but are looking toward the left. Not bad judgement, but inexcusable lack of attention.

    1. Auburn Dale says:

      That validates my point. If two (not one but TWO) game officials were ignoring the game, they were probably given a financial incentive to do so.

      Why is that not being investigated?

  3. Auburn Dale says:

    Is anybody digging into who PAID those refs to blow that call??

  4. Chamberlin says:

    These refs made many calls and they apparently missed a couple. That happens in every game in every sport played anywhere, and will continue to happen. Probably every athlete has committed a foul that was not seen by the officials.

  5. robbie says:

    jim burr is fast becoming a horrible official!the past few years he has missed several obvious calls.time to hang them up after good career.

  6. Frank says:

    Jim Burr and Tim Higgins are two of the finest officials College Basketball has ever had. Obviously, they made a mistake. They are human. If this is ” such a catastrophic event “, than the Big East should put in a tournament rule that the last minute of every game can be reviewed, and any error can be correctable. Do we really think that they would not have corrected it if they could ??

  7. Mike says:

    Burr, Higgins, and Walton SUCK and should never be allowed to ref a game, specifically Burr and Higgins. They’re both old, losing their eye sight and can’t keep up, that’s why they’re CONSTANTLY out of position and why they BOTH missed OBVIOUS calls. At the very least they should never ref a Rutgers game ever again

    1. Mr. Armenia says:

      please dtop making this racial. They missed a call my goodness.

  8. Mr. Armenia says:

    The games final 1.5 seconds should have been replayed or Rutgers should have at least been given another game in the Big East tourney.

    Plus inbestigate the officials to see if they were bribed.

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