NEW YORK: NBA Commissioner David Stern said on Tuesday an FBI probe learned that former referee Tim Donaghy was a rogue, isolated criminal who bet on games and that it appeared no other league employees were involved.
Stern told a news conference that he was told by the FBI, which is conducting the investigation, that Donaghy was the only referee it has evidence of betting on games.
If that understanding changes tomorrow I will inform you, he said.
Stern vowed that the league would give its full cooperation and conduct an exhaustive review of its security practices.
This is the worst thing that can happen to a professional sports league, said Stern, adding that any official's involvement in gambling shatters the covenant with fans over the integrity of the game.
This is the worst situation I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or the commissioner of the NBA, he said, calling it a betrayal of what we know in sports as a sacred trust.
Stern said the investigation involved games that Donaghy, a 13-year NBA veteran, worked over the last two seasons. Donaghy submitted his resignation on July 9.
The commissioner said the FBI came to him about Donaghy on June 20 and asked that the league not act on the information to safeguard the investigation.
Stern said the NBA have had talks with Donaghy's lawyer and understood he was discussing a plea deal with authorities.
Word of the FBI investigation broke Friday with a report that the referee's gambling became known during a separate investigation of organised crime.
It is my understanding that he is accused of betting on games in the NBA, Stern said on Tuesday about Donaghy, who he described as a rogue, isolated criminal.
Including some games that he worked and others he didn't work. I understand he will likely be accused of providing information to others for the purpose of betting on NBA games.
Stern said Donaghy earned US$260,000 last season. Reuters