Head of SEC officiating fired by league

Updated: December 16, 2005, 9:05 PM ET
Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The longtime head of basketball referees for the Southeastern Conference was fired and replaced, but the league wouldn't give the reason for his ouster, which came amid the departure of two game officials.

Commissioner Mike Slive said the termination of John Guthrie after 25 years was "a personnel matter" and declined further comment.

Reached at home in Atlanta, Guthrie also declined to discuss his departure, according to a story published Friday in The Birmingham News.

"I won't have much to say at this time," he said.

Guthrie confirmed to another newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel, that he did not resign and was terminated by the SEC office.

The News Sentinel also reported Friday that an SEC referee from Atlanta, Jason McNeil, will not be assigned to officiate any more SEC basketball games. Slive would not comment on McNeil's status, either.

Another SEC basketball official from Atlanta, Travis Correll, resigned earlier this week after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit in Texas alleging he and others ran a fraudulent investment scheme that raised more than $26 million since July 2004.

Slive said Correll would have been removed from officiating league games had he not quit.

Correll, who was in his second season as an SEC basketball ref, was accused with five others of selling interests in purported foreign and international bank deposit programs promising risk-free returns of 4 percent to 12 percent.

According to the complaint, the bank deposit program did not exist and investment returns came from the proceeds of more recent investors in what is commonly referred to as a Ponzi scheme.

Guthrie said his firing had nothing to do with the investigation of Correll, who has an Atlanta-based company called Horton Establishment.

Guthrie was replaced in the league position by Gerald Boudreaux, a director of parks and recreation in Lafayette, La., who has worked as an SEC official for more than 20 years.

As coordinator of officials, he will be responsible for making assignments for the nearly 70 men that the conference can call on to officiate basketball games. Slive said the league had a conference call with coaches on Thursday to discuss the change.

Slive said Boudreaux was acting in as interim coordinator of basketball officials.

"He has strong feelings about this conference and right now is willing to step up and help. At the end of the season, he and I can evaluate the job," said Slive.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press