NEW YORK — A review of the NBA’s officiating program found no evidence of illegal activity by any referee other than Tim Donaghy, though it recommended significant changes for monitoring gambling and game integrity.
The report, compiled over 14 months by former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz and released Thursday, called for the creation of a “culture of compliance” and closer monitoring of games for suspicious activity.
Pedowitz made three key recommendations to the league: create a hot line to anonymously raise questions about gambling and game integrity issues; make available any complaints the league receives about refs — beginning in the 2008-09 playoffs — to both teams to avoid suspicions of bias; provide more access to referees for both fans and media.
The report also suggests mandatory gambling education for players. “We believe that gambling can expose the players and the league to significant risks, and therefore it is important that players be educated regarding those risks,” the report says.
Boston Celtics players Paul Pierce and Ray Allen agreed gambling’s an issue that should be addressed.
“Throughout the years we have a number of different meetings. ... A gambling meeting wouldn’t hurt,” Allen said from training camp in Newport, R.I. “I think its just as important to educate the guys to make sure they don’t give money away that you’ve worked hard for and you want to continue to work hard for. The education would definitely help.”
Pedowitz said that if he owned a team, he wouldn’t even want his players taking part in card games on the team plane.
“The sickness of compulsive gambling can affect many people. ... We worry about players,” Pedowitz said during a conference call. “This can ruin your life.”
Commissioner David Stern ordered the investigation last year after former referee Donaghy was charged with betting on games he officiated and providing inside information to gambling associates to win their bets. He’s currently serving a 15-month sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.