Rutgers Issues Statement on Clock Malfunction

Monday evening's RU/UT women's basketball game that ended mired in controversy and resulted in a Lady Volunteer victory received no further attention from the NCAA. However, given the clear error by the officiating crew handling the game, both RU Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer and RU athletic Director Robert Mulcahy issued distinct statements regarding the game's conclusion.

It was evident that most of the nation felt just as Rutgers did after the conclusion of the Scarlet Knight's game ended mired in controversy on Monday evening. Despite the loss in the record books, Rutgers managed to gain one #1 vote and moved from a previous ranking of #7 to #4 in the latest edition of the ESPN/USA Today Poll.

The controversial 0.2 seconds, as it will forever be known in both Knoxville and Piscataway, was witnessed by a national television audience as a freezing of the clock. Whether it was a freezing or a simple pause is unknown - the relevance, however, is that significantly more than 0.2 seconds (the amount of time that was still left on the game clock at the time of freezing) elapsed while Tennessee's Nicky Anosike grabbed the rebound while in mid-air, came down with the ball, and went back up, at which time Rutgers' Kia Vaughn fouled her.

"It froze?" UT Head Coach Pat Summitt stated in the post-game interview immediately after the conclusion of the game, underscoring that the referees did not make this error apparent to both parties at the time of occurrence, despite a multitude of looks at the video replay. "I was not aware of that, obviously."

For Rutgers, the error proved decisive, as Anosike was awarded a pair of free throws. To her credit, she buried both of them, the first tying the Scarlet Knights and the second putting UT ahead.

Tuesday evening, Rutgers issued an official statement as a follow-up to Monday's game.

Coach Stringer:
The controversy at the end of the game last night at Tennessee was an unfortunate incident and Rutgers deserved to win. I am saddened because my team played a hard-fought game and to have it finish in such a manner overshadows the accomplishments of two exceptional teams.

The one thing I have learned over my 36 years of coaching is in the waning moments of a game you can never allow officials or others to determine the outcome. It is the unpredictably of those situations at an opponent's court that allow for those kind of errors and unfortunately Rutgers was on the losing end at this time. It is clear when teams work as hard as they do that all other entities that affect the outcome of a game demonstrate the highest level of integrity and competence. Clearly, that was not what happened in Knoxville last evening. This I know, we will learn from this - And while we hurt, the Scarlet Knights will rise. We will practice hard Thursday and prepare for the next match-up Saturday at South Florida.

RU AD Robert E. Mulcahy:
It is my conclusion that the officiating crew and others made an error. Did a Rutgers player commit a foul? Yes, but as the television replays clearly showed, it occurred after time had expired.

Today, I have discussed the issue with:

    - BIG EAST Commissioner Mike Tranghese
    - BIG EAST Assistant Commissioner/Women's Basketball Officiating Coordinator Barbara Jacobs
    - Representatives from Precision Time (the timing system used in basketball arenas across the country)

Precision Time verified that, contrary to the statement which Tennessee officials issued last evening, personnel at the official table could have stopped the clock. Whether it was a clock malfunction or human error can only be determined by those involved.

Tennessee and Rutgers have the same Precision Time system. However at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), we have a newer system which also tracks data which determines who starts and stops; for example if it was done by Referee A, B or C, or if there was an error by a worker at the officials table. We have learned that Tennessee's system does not have this option.

According to Precision Time there are two things that could have happened: (1) a timekeeper error, or (2) a referee blew the whistle and then re-started the clock with their remote device. It is believed, however, that a referee could not physically press the button fast enough to stop and start the clock, particularly in that type of a situation. Keep in mind, Precision Time is used around world, including in the Olympics and in the NBA. The system at Tennessee was checked after the game last evening and it worked properly.

Unfortunately, the officiating crew also made an error when they did not ask the timer about the stoppage of the clock, nor did the lead official use a stop watch with the replay monitor, something officials are instructed to do in these types of situations.

Once the officials leave the floor there is nothing that can be done . It is my understanding that SEC and BIG EAST officials spoke to all three officials, Bob Trammell, Tina Napier and Bonita Spence and also the timekeeper at Tennessee. The timekeeper claims he did not stop the clock and the officials did not stop the clock. It appears to be a case of one of those involved not accepting responsibility.

It is one thing for human error to be directly responsible for the outcome of a game, and entirely another when appropriate action is not taken as a result. I have asked the governing body to take a long, hard look at this unfortunate occurrence with the hopes that something like this will never happen again in our great game. To have the hopes and aspirations of our team and coaches dashed due to human error, which could have been corrected, is to me, unacceptable.

Scarlet Report Top Stories