The New York Post reported Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating Tim Donaghy, who allegedly bet on NBA games - including some he himself had officiated during the past two seasons.
As the story provoked a storm of speculation as to how damaging a gambling scandal could be for the league, NBA commissioner David Stern issued a statement on the matter.
"As we previously stated, we have been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of allegations that a single NBA referee bet on NBA games that he officiated," Stern said.
"As part of that cooperation, we were asked by the Government not to comment about the investigation.
"But in light of the widespread press coverage and the naming of the referee, Tim Donaghy, we consider it appropriate to make a fuller statement. We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again."
Stern said the he would address the matter again at a press conference next week.
The Post reported that the investigation began more than a year ago with the FBI looking into claims that Donaghy, a 13-year veteran, was making calls that enabled him and other gamblers working with him to collect on large bets.
The newspaper also reported that the FBI plans to make a number of arrests in relation to the case.
According to the report, Donaghy had a gambling problem and began fixing games to try and get out of debt. The 40-year-old resigned from the NBA two weeks ago.
Donaghy helped officiate five different games this past postseason, including game three of the highly publicized Western Conference semi-final series between the San Antonio Spurs - who went on to win the title - and Phoenix. The series was marred by physical play, controversial calls and suspensions.
If true, the allegations involving Donaghy would be the first time that the NBA has been tarnished by game-fixing.
College basketball has suffered numerous such scandals. One of the most recent in the NCAA occurred in 1994, when Arizona State players Stevin "Hedake" Smith and Isaac Burton accepted bribes to rig the outcome of games.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Temmuz 2007, 15:19