NEW YORK (AP) -An academic study of NBA officiating found that white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players, The New York Times reported on its Web site Tuesday night.
The study by a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor and Cornell graduate student also found that black officials called fouls more frequently against white players than black, but noted that that tendency was not as pronounced.
Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at Penn's Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, said the difference in calls ``is large enough that the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial composition of the refereeing crew.''
The study, conducted over a 13-season span through 2004, found that the racial makeup of a three-man officiating crew affected calls by up to 4 1/2 percent.
The study was based on information from publicly available box scores, which show only the referees' names and contain no information about which official made a call.
``We'll reserve comment until we've had the chance to review the article,'' NBA spokesman Tim Frank told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
The Times said the NBA did its own study, and commissioner David Stern was quoted as saying the league's report ``demonstrates that there is no bias.''
The NBA's study, using data from November 2004 to January 2007, was based on information that included which official made each call. The NBA denied a request by Wolfers and Price to obtain that information, citing its confidentiality agreement with the officials.
Wolfers and Price are set to present the paper at meetings of the Society of Labor Economists on Friday and the American Law and Economics Association on Sunday. The Times said they will then submit it to the National Bureau of Economic Research and for formal peer review before consideration by an economic journal.
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