State senator wants NCAA to investigate clock dispute

Updated: March 19, 2008, 5:43 PM ET
Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. -- A New Jersey lawmaker wants the NCAA to investigate the Rutgers-Tennessee women's basketball game won by the Lady Vols amid a dispute over whether the clock paused, allowing a foul and game-winning free throws.

Nicky Anosike sank two free throws with two-tenths of a second left as then-No. 1 Tennessee rallied for a 59-58 win over then-No. 5 Rutgers in a rematch of last season's national championship game.

Sen. Robert Singer's nonbinding legislation calls on the NCAA to investigate the game played at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It looked a little strange," Singer said Wednesday. "It was done on their own home court that way. You know, I thought from watching the game that time had run out."

Television replays showed the game clock seeming to pause at 0.2 for about 1.3 seconds before running out as Anosike came down with an offensive rebound and was grabbed from behind by Kia Vaughn on Feb. 11.

Officials replayed the video and ruled the foul came just before the buzzer.

It was unfortunate, but there is no overturning human error. We have moved forward with our attention focused on the upcoming NCAA tournament.

--Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy

"It was an exciting game, and you know, you win some, you lose some," Singer said. "That's not the issue. The issue is with today's technology there should be a better way to do it."

The Southeastern Conference said the officials properly discharged their duties, but Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said her team deserved to win.

Singer, R-Ocean, said he understands it's unlikely the NCAA would reverse the outcome but hopes his request can lead to standard clock rules for all games.

"They can just mandate how they want it done across the board so it's universal," he said.

Rutgers spokeswoman Stacey Brann said Wednesday the team wasn't focusing on that game.

"The focus for the team is on the future and keeping their season alive in hopes of reaching another Final Four," Brann said.

Rutgers (24-6) plays in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday against Robert Morris (23-9). Defending champion Tennessee (30-2) faces Oral Roberts (19-13) on Sunday.

Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy appreciated Singer's support, but didn't back his call for an NCAA investigation.

"It was unfortunate, but there is no overturning human error," Mulcahy said. "We have moved forward with our attention focused on the upcoming NCAA tournament."

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said regular-season officiating falls within the jurisdiction of conferences, not the NCAA.

"In this particular case the NCAA was in contact with Southeastern Conference and Big East Conference staff representatives as these individuals worked through this matter," Osburn said. "The NCAA has confidence it was handled in the appropriate manner by the conference personnel."

Tennessee spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter said the university had no comment.

Rutgers, New Jersey's state university, lost to Tennessee in the 2007 championship, a game that was overshadowed by ensuing sexist and racist remarks about the Scarlet Knights' players by radio host Don Imus.

Singer's bill comes with New Jersey battling severe budget woes, but he defended his legislation, which hasn't been scheduled for a hearing.

"Some can say there's a lot more important things," Singer said. "You're right. This is not the most pressing issue, but it's something to me that's an issue that we can take care of and we can send a resolution. Not a big deal to do, but it sends a message the state would like to take a look at it."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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