Friday, February 1, 2002 Updated: February 4, 12:34 AM ET
Majerus assistant to blame for errant vote
By Andy Katz ESPN.com
Utah head coach Rick Majerus was removed Friday as one of 31 coaches who vote in the ESPN/USA Today's basketball coaches' poll after it was discovered a member of his coaching staff had voted an sub-.500 Temple team No. 9 in last week's poll.
Majerus told ESPN.com on Friday that he was unaware of the vote. Majerus immediately sent a letter to Reggie Minton, associate director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, apologizing for the incident. The NABC helps USA Today in picking the 31 head coaches who vote on the poll. He also sent the letter to Temple coach John Chaney.
Majerus said he had an assistant vote for him because he has been caught up in personal issues, dealing with his mother's battle with cancer, not to mention the duties of coaching the Utes after sitting out last season. He said he understood that his actions had hurt the poll and had no problem being taken off the poll by USA Today deputy managing editor for sports Jim Welch, leaving the poll with 30 head coaches instead of 31.
"We were trying to figure out whether there was a particular angle to it, a friendship, a relationship, whatever, league tie, local tie, any of the things you might look for, and it turns out that it was none of those," Welch told Philadelphia Daily News on Thursday. "It was just an unfortunate situation where somebody really had not been following it."
Minton said the NABC takes this issue very seriously. Majerus said his assistant knew how much Majerus admired Chaney, but wasn't aware of the Owls' 6-12 record at the time of the last week's vote. Temple isn't expected to receive a single point in next week's coaches poll once the correction has been made.
Voters call an 800-phone number each week to cast their ballots. Temple was 3-7 on Dec. 23, but has steadily climbed in the polls. Recently, a USA Today staffer compiling the votes brought the trend to Welch's attention. He then traced the vote and removed the voter.
"If it had turned out, in looking into it, that there had been more than one, that would really have raised some questions," Welch said. But it was only one voter. It's hard to believe, but true."
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. News services contributed to this report.