PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AP) -The Big Ten will begin annual background checks on its football and basketball officials in response to a report about the checkered legal and financial record of one of its football officials.
The Big Ten also announced Thursday in a release that it will consider whether it should continue to allow its officials to legally gamble in casinos. The conference's code of conduct currently prohibits gambling on sports but not casino gambling.
Yahoo! Sports reported Stephen Pamon, a Big Ten official since 1988 and chief of a seven-man crew this season, and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and two of the creditors were casinos. Pamon's sister-in-law, Gina Banks, told Yahoo! that Pamon regularly gambled in casinos and the gambling he and his wife did contributed to their bankruptcy. There was no evidence Pamon bet on sporting events.
Yahoo! also reported Pamon had been charged with beating three of his girlfriend's four sons with an electrical cord. The felony charges were later reduced, and Pamon was convicted of a misdemeanor.
The Big Ten said it conducted a background check on Pamon and all its officials in 2005.
``At the conclusion of the 2005 background check, the conference office was notified of certain civil and criminal records for Pamon. Upon further third-party review, the conference was satisfied that the financial and criminal issues had been resolved at that time,'' the league said.
In 1996, Pamon allegedly was fired by Chicago Police Department after two female officers accused him of sexual harassment, Yahoo! reported, citing published reports based on information from law-enforcement officials. Yahoo! also reported one of Pamon's former wives accused him in 1994 of striking her and sexually assaulting her 19-year-old niece, according to court records.
The league said other details reported in the article were not available during the 2005 review. The conference planned to investigate the new information and provide ``an opportunity for Pamon to respond as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.''
The Big Ten implemented background checks for officials beginning with the 2005-06 academic year. All football and men's and women's basketball officials were checked by a third-party service for criminal and financial records.
Since then all new officials have received a background check and the league planned periodic checks of its officials. Now those will be done every year.
Pamon's crew came under scrutiny for its work in this season's Penn State-Purdue game on Nov. 3 and was reportedly suspend.
Late in the November game, Purdue receiver Selwyn Lymon caught a pass and went out of bounds, but the game clock was never stopped and Purdue had to use a timeout. Purdue kicked a field goal on the possession and went on to lose 26-19. Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller reportedly filed a complaint about the officiating with the Big Ten.

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