Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The problem with college basketball officials.

Without dwelling into the Cheney goon incident again (which I'm tired of hearing about), the biggest problem I have with it wasn't necessarily the fact that Cheney decided to execute this stunt.  Rather, I am surprised that the officials seemed as if they were impervious to it and didn't realize this was going on.

As I stated before, if the officials would have been doing their job, Ingram would have been out of that game within three fouls, and that's allowing one to slide.  All of Ingram's fouls were hard shots, and could have easily been seen as intentional or flagrant.  All it takes is two of those for Ingram to be ejected.

As long as most college officials have been calling basketball, there's no doubt in my mind that these officials recognized this too.  So why didn't they call it?  Ultimately no one will ever know the answer, since officials are not allowed to talk to the media about their games, but I think it comes down to a combination of things.

First, the officials don't run that floor, particularly if you have a popular or "legendary" coach on it.  Cheney qualifies as one of those coaches, and there are several others.  Those kind of coaches are allowed to literally get away with murder on that court, and they won't get teched, and often influence officials' future calls.  Ever notice an official standing right by a bench talking with a coach during a free throw?  That's what's going on.

On the Triangle's sports station, 850 The Buzz, afternoon drive time host and program manager Adam Gold has had two great interviews in the last two days:  one with a writer with ACC Sports Journal and another that I've forgotten.  Anyway, one of the key topics they've discussed is the lack of respect shown by coaches in the ACC towards officials and the resulting high turnover of officials within the ACC.  A lot of heat was placed on ACC officials supervisor Fred Bearcat by Gold as well.

One thing Gold and others have brought up are the F-bombs that have been hurled by Coach K and Maryland coach Gary Williams onto officials and there are constant confrontations on almost every call by those coaches and sometimes by the assistant coaches.  Sure; criticism can go towards those coaches, but it also should be placed upon the ACC head offices and officials for allowing this kind of disrespect to go on.

The very first time a coach hurls a profanity, he should be teched.  Period.  End of story.  And then he should be told to sit his behind down and not to get up for the rest of the game, or he'll be ejected in accordance to basketball regulations.  But those coaches have won national championships in a conference that consistently is one of the best in the nation every year, and thus pressure will be placed on the game officials to allow them to act in that manner.  After all, no one wants a coach to be ejected out of a game.  But that's precisely what has to happen if college basketball - ACC, A-10, or whomever - wants to get a hold on the officials problem.

I was listening to former NC State standout Chris Corchiani on Gold's show vent his frustration about basketball officials, saying the best officials are the ones that you don't realize are there.  I agree with that, but the most important thing is that the officials have control of that court first.  That can't happen if you have everyone and their mothers disrespecting you; from the players on the court to the people in the stands. 

Thus, why stay in the ACC, where you are going to be subjected to tons of stress and harrassment, when you can go to the SEC or another D-1 conference that has less egos involved and the officials can control the games a little better, and possibly has a better support base?  You might not make as much money there, but at least you won't have to risk a heart attack.

Gold has come up with the idea that officials should be able to talk to the media in press conferences after the game.  The only problem with this is that internal problems within the conferences must be addressed first.  Also, there are just some things that are not going to be addressed due to the politics behind them.  That's just a fact of life, albeit sad.  But if the officials don't mind addressing some situations in a game, I don't see anything wrong with that once some problems are fixed.

Contrast this to the NBA.  Last night, Rick Carlisle was ejected from the Pacers/Bucks game.  When's the last time you've heard of that happening to Krzyzewski, or any other ACC coach?  College basketball has allowed the coaches to become bigger than the game, and the game is what's suffering.

Posted at 05:59 pm by Expertise

December 23, 2008   04:14 AM PST
I would agree that the stature of coaches is far too inflated in college basketball but less from the officials' side than that of the Universities and the NCAA. If I ran the NCAA, I would not allow basketball and football programs to compete financially with the NBA and NFL for coaches. That is preposterous and hardly necessary. The rule should be that no head coach may earn more than the president of his university and/or its top paid faculty member.

I have been around college basketball as a journalist and as a friend of an official and I will say quite confidently that officials have control of a game in college more so than in the pro ranks. Further, there is a pool reporter who meets with officials during conference and championship tournaments. The limitation of access is not a matter of furtiveness or mystery, it is because most reporters don't even adequately understand the rules to begin with. This is, unfortunately, also true of many coaches. Is an official really going to be intimidated by a profane, overtly biased loudmouth? I don't doubt that for all their shouting the Caliparis of the world have gotten a call or two, but overall it's in one ear and out the other.


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