Earl Walton officiating Big Ten game

Updated: March 12, 2011, 2:24 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

One of the officials who stepped aside from the Big East tournament after the controversial ending of the St. John's-Rutgers game is working the Michigan State-Purdue game at the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis on Friday night.

Referee Earl Walton was one of three officials who withdrew from the Big East tournament after coming under heavy criticism for failing to officiate until the final buzzer of Wednesday's second-round game in New York.

Big Ten associate commissioner Rick Boyages, who supervises the league's officials, said the league had always planned to use Walton when he was finished at the Big East.

Boyages said he reviewed tape of the St. John's-Rutgers game and discussed using Walton with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany before confirming Walton's new assignment. Boyages said he also spoke with Walton and did not have a major problem with Walton's role in the Big East decision.

Walton is one of four officials working the Big Ten tournament who worked the Big East tournament as well, Boyages said.

Neither Michigan State coach Tom Izzo nor Purdue coach Matt Painter was concerned about Walton officiating the game.

"I didn't take any issue to it," Painter said. "I thought he did a good job. We haven't had him this year but we've had him before and he's always done a good job. Like a lot of coaches have talked about, about that one situation, they made a mistake. You move on. You know, it's part of it. Good officials make mistakes."

Izzo watched the play in the Rutgers-St. John's game and said Walton shouldn't be judged by a single incident.

"I had no problem with that personally because that whole end-of-the-game thing, it was strange," he said. "You know, I mean, there were so many strange things that happened. I was more upset watching it on the foul maybe than the stepping out of bounds."

John Adams, the NCAA's national coordinator of men's basketball officiating, said a decision on whether Walton, Jim Burr and Tim Higgins will work in the NCAA tournament will come Sunday. Walton has never worked a Final Four.

ESPN's Pat Forde and Andy Katz contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used.

ALSO SEE