Tuesday, July 24, 2007

David Stern Press Conference

David Stern held a press conference at 11AM EST today to address the media and general public regarding the alleged betting and fixed calls made by referee Tim Donoghy.

In Stern's statement he said "Good morning. We're here today to discuss the investigation into certain allegations against referee Tim Donghy." Stern presented NBA policies and what they can and can not do regarding the investigation. Stern said the rules for referees are crystal clear with regards to not gambling on games or providing info to others about those games. Stern said discipline for this would be expulsion from the job. Stern said they extensively educate the referees who work in the NBA to learn the rules of the game and policies. Stern said the NBA has a large security department headed by Bernie Tolbert a former FBI agent with a background in undercover work. Stern said there is also a security network which has a security representative for each NBA team. Stern noted these representatives are usually FBI, local policemen or DEA.

In addition to constant contact with their security representatives, Stern said they are in contact with DEA and homeland security department. Stern said the NBA referees are subjected to extensive security checks with regards to the limits of the law. In the past few years they have had background checks which look at credit, bank accounts, assets and debt. Stern said with the NBA's concern for gambling they have retained a consultant in Vegas to inform them of unusual movements of betting on the NBA. Stern included they are in contact with Nevada Gaming Board as well.

Stern said there is an instrument used to capture every call a referee makes and every non-call a ref is considered to make. Stern said there are about 30 observers at each game who observe the referee calls and later review the game on tape. Stern said they also have 4 additional basketball experts who audit the observers of the game calls.

Stern said in January of 2005 it became known to NBA that referee Tim Donoghy was involved in disputes with a neighbor in PA. Stern said the NBA hired an investigator to look into that allegation. At the time, Stern said Donoghy informed them the allegations were untrue and he was the one being harassed. Stern said at this time someone had also suggested Donoghy gambled. Stern said Donoghy denied this as well. Stern said they investigated the claim and all investigations came up negative. Stern said the dispute between Donoghy and his neighbor continued. Stern said Donoghy was told he would not work the second round of the 2005 playoffs due to the problems with his neighbor, and that if continued he would be fired from the NBA. Stern said besides these matters nothing raised any suspicion regarding his calls on the court as his accuracy has always been top notch.

Stern said they received a call from FBI on June 20, 2007 shortly after the NBA Finals, with the FBI asking to come in and talk regarding the allegations against a referee betting. Stern said they met the next day to discuss this matter. Stern said as this is a continuing investigation he is unable to comment on the information exchanged between the FBI and the NBA office currently. Stern gave his interpretation of what Tim Donoghy is accused of, saying Donoghy is accused of betting on NBA games and that he possibly bet on games he worked and did not work in. Stern said he understands Donoghy is accused of giving info to others to allow them to profit on betting on NBA games. Stern said he does not know the number of games, which games Donoghy may have bet on and who else might have known about the situation. Stern said Donoghy resigned on July 9, 2007. Stern said this was a choice by the NBA to assist the investigation of the FBI, because they felt a firing would not be best for it. Stern said over the alleged 2 season time period that Donoghy is accused of betting he refereed 139 regular season, 8 playoff games and 4 preseason games. Stern said at this time Donoghy is the only referee believed to be involved in this.

Stern said there is speculation about the NBA knowing Donoghy was betting this past year, and Stern said this is untrue. He also said as commissioner he retains the best outside experts and consultants to advise the NBA on how to handle things best. Stern noted this is the most serious and worst matter he has had to deal with while a part of the NBA in the past 40 years. Stern said they are currently doing the best they possibly can, and that doesn't always mean criminal activity from a determined individual will go unnoticed. Stern said they plan to improve things to keep their bond strong with their fans.

During media questions, Stern said he is surprised at how a referee could get away with this despite all the procedures and security measurements in place. Stern said he continues to ask what more can be done to ensure this won't happen, and that expert help will aid him in implementing the best policies. Stern said outside of wire tapping and 24/7 surveillance of their employees there isn't much more they could do outside of the current policies. Stern said he will continue to be protective of his referees who are besmirched by coaches and players. Stern said he will let the investigation run its course but believes this is an isolated, rogue criminal and no other referees were involved.

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