NBA defines new role for oversight of referee operations
A United States Army general has been hired by the NBA to the newly created position of senior vice president for referee operations, the league announced Tuesday.
Ronald L. Johnson, a two-star general who recently retired from active duty as deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be responsible for all aspects of the NBA's officiating program, including recruiting, training and development, scheduling, data management and analysis, and work rules enforcement.
Johnson will report to Joel Litvin, the NBA's president for league and basketball operations.
"As I leave the military and return to civilian life, I can't imagine a more interesting and challenging position," Johnson said in a statement. "Although I don't have a basketball background, other than as a lifelong fan, I am confident that my experience as an Army commander and engineer has equipped me to bring leadership and innovation to the NBA's exceptional officiating program."
The announcement of the new role comes as disgraced referee Tim Donaghy's July 14 sentencing looms for his role in a gambling scheme.
The 41-year-old Donaghy pleaded guilty last year to felony charges of taking cash payoffs from gamblers in the 2006-07 season. He faces up to 33 months in prison.
Johnson's hiring formalizes the separation of the league's referee and basketball operations functions, as previously announced by the league. Stu Jackson will continue as executive vice president of basketball operations and remain responsible for all other domestic and international basketball matters.
"Ron's wealth of leadership and management experience, together with his engineering expertise in areas such as systems analysis, processes, and operations, make him an ideal candidate to lead our officiating program," commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "Our referees are the best in the world but they never stop striving to improve and Ron has made a career out of getting the very best out of people."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- perhaps the league's loudest critic of NBA officials being managed by Jackson and Ed T. Rush before that -- hailed the hiring of Johnson. Cuban has been calling for years for Stern to go outside his usual sphere in search of a new head of referees.
"I love it," Cuban told ESPN.com. "This was the exact right move."ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein contributed to this report.
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TIM DONAGHY SCANDAL
Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pled guilty to federal felony conspiracy charges alleging that he passed along inside information on NBA games.
Donaghy also alleges that referees helped alter the outcomes of games during the '02 and '05 postseasons.
He was sentenced to 15 months in prison in July.
News• Phoenix prosecutor wants federal files
• Donaghy's father says NBA must share the blame
• NBA's disclosure of own probe of officials on hold
• Adviser: Donaghy 'couldn't stop' gambling
• Two ex-classmates of Donaghy get prison time
• Report: Donaghy made calls to fellow ref
• NY prosecutors: Ref 'central' to NBA bet scandal
• NBA's restitution case vs. Donaghy questioned
• Donaghy lawyer: NBA trying to vilify ex-ref
• NBA ups Donaghy restitution figure to $1.4M
• Referee from alleged fixed game to work Game 5
• Ex-referee denies improper officiating claim
• Kings lament Donaghy's claims from 2002
• Report: Federal agents ask ex-ref about Bavetta
• NBA ref responds to Donaghy's 2002 claim
• 2002 playoff game at heart of allegations
• Stern allows some forms of gambling among refs
• NBA refutes report of refs disciplined
• Ex-ref Donaghy forfeits cash as part of plea deal
• Stern defends refs, vows to wait before punishing
• Ex-prosecutor counseled refs during FBI probe
• Attorney to lead review of NBA refs
• Report: Donaghy to talk about other refs
• Donaghy could face state charges
• Donaghy pleads guilty to felony charges | Docs
• Donaghy to plead guilty on betting charges
• Lawyer: Donaghy classmate expects indictment
• Congressman requests discussion with Stern
• Stern: Donaghy only referee believed to have bet
• Transcript of Stern's news conference
• Police called to Donaghy's home
• Report: Feds believe ref will cooperate
• Reports: NBA referee bet on games
• Mayor: Scandal won't hurt Vegas' NBA dream
Stats• Donaghy's 2006-'07 game log
• Donaghy's 2005-'06 game log
Analysis• Munson: What happens on judgment day?
• Munson: Prison or no prison for Donaghy?
• Neumann: Nader feels vindicated
• Hill: NBA not helping their own case
• Stein: NBA has no quick fix for fixing charges
• Smith: Season shaken by Donaghy nightmare
• Munson: Donaghy's claims troubling for NBA
• Adande: Shine brighter spotlight on refs
• Sheridan: What next, Commissioner Stern?
• Munson: Q&A about Tim Donaghy and the law
• Sheridan: 10 Q&A on the scandal
• Sheridan: Even Stern uncertain about latest crisis
• Stein: Donaghy questions and answers
• Drehs: Expert finds funny numbers
• Broussard: Refs say it's isolated incident
• Katz: College officials fear lasting backlash
• Jackson: Sad, not shocked
• Drehs: Q&A with gambling expert
• Sheridan: Three big questions
• Simmons: One man out, one league in trouble
• Stein: Players react
• Sheridan: Team USA players react
• Stein: Official nightmare for Stern
• Sheridan: The Donaghy file
• Adande: NBA's image takes another hit
• Jones: More bad news for the NBA
• TrueHoop: Two unproven beliefs remain so
• TrueHoop: Here's an early NBA fixer
TrueHoop• Betting expert: There's more to this story
• Observations on the Donaghy documents
• No specific mention of game-fixing
• Donaghy treated for gambling addiction
• Reaction to Donaghy's guilty pleas
• Donaghy details from the Justice Department
• Donaghy surrenders; what it all means
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