ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
A veteran NBA referee is under investigation for allegedly betting on pro-basketball games including games that he worked.
The referee is 13-year-veteran Tim Donaghy. He will reportedly turn himself in and face charges next week.
Here's NPR'S Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN: Betting scandals in sports usually involve players or coaches. The allegations in this investigation point to the person in charge of maintaining order and integrity in the game.
The FBI is investigating referee Tim Donaghy for allegedly betting thousands of dollars on NBA games during the last two seasons. Donaghy allegedly made calls during games that affected the score, which could have allowed him to cash in on bets. The New York Post, which broke the story today, says the referee had a gambling problem, he went into debt, and got involved with people linked to organized crime.
According to the Post, the Donaghy case is part of a larger FBI investigation into organized crime in New York City. NBA commissioner, David Stern, said, quote, "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, end quote.
While baseball deals with the ongoing taint of doping stories, and football this week endured damaging PR from the Michael Vick indictment on charges of illegal dogfighting, pro basketball now must wrestle with the specter of gambling.
All sports league commissioners are sensitive about illegal betting. The NBA's David Stern has a long-standing objection to starting a new franchise in Las Vegas because the city allows betting on basketball.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.