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East member institutions — the officials who were assigned to the St. John’s-Rutgers game Wednesday have voluntarily withdrawn for the remainder of the 2011 Big East championship,” Commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.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…

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