Two Maritime teams have withdrawn from the Premier Basketball League, saying they are disgusted with officiating and a lack of fairness. The Saint John Mill Rats and the Halifax Rainmen both made the announcement Monday night.
In a news release posted on the Halifax Rainmen's website, president and CEO Andre Levingston said the decision is effective immediately.
"After watching the final playoff series and analyzing the statistics...I am appalled by the officiating that took place during the playoffs, and am ashamed of the PBL’s operations this season.
"I want nothing but the best for our city, our fans, our sponsors, and our players, and I can say with confidence that the best is no longer found in the PBL."
Levingston said his decision to withdraw from the league was made when the Rochester RazorSharks won the championship Monday night, beating the Lawton Fort-Sill Cavalry 87-84.
He will not recognize the RazorSharks as this season's champions, according to the release.
"The Rochester RazorSharks are owned by Dr. Severko Hrywnak, who is also the owner of the PBL," said Levingston.
Exploring other options
Despite a banner year for the Saint John Mill Rats, team president and CEO Ian McCarthy is also quitting the league.
"There's been a lot of controversy regarding the officiating and the assignment of home referees if you will, for the Rochester franchise, which also happens to own the league," said McCarthy. "The manner in which the playoffs were handled was unconscionable and we want no part of it."
McCarthy said the Mill Rats, Halifax Rainmen and Quebec Kebs are all looking at their options and considering starting a new league, which could open the door for a team in Moncton as well. Other options include joining the International Basketball League, or the National Basketball Association Development League, he added.
Rainmen's Levingston is adamant there will be professional basketball in Halifax next season.
"We are very optimistic and excited about the options we are currently weighing," he said. "Our organization will always remain committed to providing Halifax with the most professional sporting and entertainment experience minor league basketball has to offer."