Big Ten to probe into referee's alleged history of bankruptcy, abuse

Updated: December 20, 2007, 12:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- The Big Ten Conference said Thursday that it will delve into a further background check on referee Stephen Pamon, a day after a Yahoo! Sports story came out which said Pamon has a history of bankruptcy, casino gambling, child abuse and allegations of sexual harassment.

The conference said it conducted its last background check on Pamon in 2005 and knew of "certain civil and criminal records for Pamon," according to a conference statement. "Upon further third-party review, the conference was satisfied that the financial and criminal issues had been resolved at that time."

The conference said that based on the article, "the conference office intends to follow up on the veracity and accuracy of the new information and will also provide an opportunity for Pamon to respond as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act."

Pamon, a Big Ten official since 1988, filied for bankruptcy along with his wife in 2002, listing two casinos among the creditors, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Pamon also was charged with repeatedly beating three of his girlfriend's four sons with an electrical cord in 1997, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1995, reportedly after two female officers accused him of sexual harassment according to published reports, and was accused by a former wife of striking her and assaulting a 19-year-old niece, according to court records.

There is no evidence linking Pamon to gambling on games, Yahoo! Sports reported.

The Big Ten said Wednesday it has conducted background checks on officials since the beginning of the 2005-06 academic year. All football and men's and women's basketball officials "were checked by a third-party service for criminal and financial records prior to the 2005-06 seasons. In ensuing years, all new officials have received a background check with the intent of periodic checks thereafter."

The conference said that it will now conduct annual background checks on its football, men's basketball and women's basketball officials.

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