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College basketball officiating takes a step in the right direction

Hey, maybe we should be providing these guys some oversight.

Xavier v Gonzaga
Tyrique Jones tries to use market saturation to explain why each of his fouls should only count for half.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Men’s Basketball Officiating Alliance has added four more conferences to its ranks, bringing its membership to eight conferences. Here’s the nitty gritty from the press release:

“Four NCAA Division I conferences – the Big South, Ivy League, Northeast and Patriot League – will join the Men’s Basketball Officiating Alliance that was formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, BIG EAST Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference and Colonial Athletic Association. The participation of the four new conferences is effective immediately.

The Alliance will enable all eight conferences to work together on a wide range of officiating matters, including scheduling, training, development, recruitment, retention and evaluation. The long-term mission of the Alliance is to increase proficiency and consistency among veteran officials across the collegiate basketball officiating landscape and to facilitate the entry of younger referees into the officiating profession.”

There’s more to the press release, but it’s mostly the usual back-patting that conference commissioners like to do when they make good decisions. The gist is in those two paragraphs.

The main takeaway here is that uniform oversight of officiating is expanding. Officials will - in theory - be trained and evaluated the same way as their peers are. Hopefully this will lead to more consistency in officiating, regardless of who is assigned to the game.

The rubber will meet the road in scheduling and retention. Just pointing out who sucks isn’t going to make a difference; when bad refs start getting fewer games, we’ll see officiating really start to improve.

Right now, this Alliance contains the Big East, the ACC, and half a dozen lower-level leagues. My guess is that it’s a precursor to national oversight of officiating, which has been too long in coming for NCAA basketball.