'Miscommunication Issue' Causes Confusion

FAYETTEVILLE -- While admitting its officials failed to communicate with each other as well as Arkansas coach Stan Heath, the Southeastern Conference stopped short of the apology he wanted for the controversial ending to the Razorbacks-LSU game on Wednesday.

Mike Jones' jumper from the top of the key with 1.8 seconds left and Arkansas trailing 58-56 either sent the game into overtime or gave Arkansas the win depending on the call by crew chief Tom Eades and official John Hampton.

Eades signaled a two-pointer when the shot went up, Hampton signaled a three-pointer after it went through the rim and the official scorekeeper recorded it as a two while the scoreboard operator put three points on the board.

After reviewing the play following LSU's desperation heave fell short in accordance with the rules, the SEC upheld Eades' decision to maintain his original call of a two-point basket.

Hampton, who told SEC supervisor of officials John Guthrie on Thursday he never signaled a three despite video evidence to the contrary, did not tell Eades he signaled a three immediately after the play, either.

"The official who signaled a three-point goal never communicated his call to the other official," the statement reads. "As a result, in the judgment of the official who had signaled a two-point goal, the ruling on the floor at that time was that the shot was a two-point goal."

Eades' statement after the game that the original call was a two-point basket sent Heath storming out of the room because Hampton had signaled a three in front of the Arkansas bench.

As far as the call of a three or not, the SEC said Eades made the right decision. The rule states it must convincingly be a three-point basket and Jones' right toe was too close to the line to say it was definitively a three.

"The conference office review of the same videotapes available to the officiating crew at courtside concurs with the officials' judgment that the replays were not sufficiently conclusive to support a change to a three-point goal," the statement reads.

The SEC said in its statement it would deal with the communication issues from Hampton's actions.

"The miscommunication that occurred among the officiating crew and between the officials and the Arkansas coaching staff immediately following regulation play resulted in confusion about the initial ruling," reads the statement. "The conference office is taking appropriate action regarding the miscommunication issue."

Heath said Thursday the "integrity of the game was compromised" because he felt Eades succumbed to pressure from the crowd and LSU coach John Brady by ruling a two-pointer to make up for not calling Jones' travel before the shot got off.

His response to the SEC ruling indicated he still was not satisfied with the decision but was ready to move on.

"I trust our conference office will handle the situation appropriately," Heath said in a statement released by the sports information department. "I'm disappointed that some of the information that we know will not be known publicly, but I have faith that the SEC will work through this situation. We will move on to our next opponent and I will have no further comment on this issue."

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