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Pac-12, Mountain West combine forces for officiating oversight

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

The Pac-12 has an image to work on after concerns about officiating in March. (USATSI)
The Pac-12 has an image to work on after concerns about officiating in March. (USATSI)

The Pac-12 is already making good on its initiative to change the way it operates and oversees its officials. And how is it doing that? By joining forces with another conference, the Mountain West.

A week after the official review on league officiating at the Pac-12 tournament was released, putting a bow on that saga, the conference has now announced in conjunction with the Mountain West that both leagues will fall under the same umbrella of referee jurisdiction going forward. This is uncommon, as leagues usually operate with their own officials in a singular council way of dominion. (The NCAA has a head of officiating in John Adams, but leagues in general are responsible for the behavior and culpability of their referees.)

“Broader regional collaboration between conferences is a positive trend for the future of officiating, the game generally and, in particular, the conferences that participate in them," Adams said.

Bobby Dibler will be the officiating coordinator; this is the same position for the Pac-12 formerly held by Ed Rush. Dibler has spent the past 14 years as the MWC's coordinator of officials and worked three Final Fours during his time as a referee.

"This new system ensures greater consistency of officiating across all Pac-12 and MWC games," according to the press release.

“Our objective is to provide the best officiating program for our teams and student-athletes,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “Under this new alliance, we will be better positioned to attract top lead officials, and to achieve the greatest consistency and accountability deserving of our excellent basketball programs. This alliance also allows us to further develop a rigorous training, evaluation and development program for the next generation of elite officials.”

The league will also be running a training clinic before the 2013-14 season, and West Coast Conference, Big West and Western Athletic Conference officials will be in attendance. This could be the way many more conferences look to operate their oversight on officials. Who knows, maybe some years down the road this ends up unionizing the refs to a point where there's more collective responsibility as a whole. Some have called for the NCAA to establish a centralized office to run its officiating business, but leagues have resisted that for years.

As for the Pac-12 and its commissioner, Scott was hailed as a visionary and the right man for the conference when he became headman of the league nearly four years ago. The Pac-12 officiating controversy, wherein Rush was alleged to have targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller, was the biggest stain on his resume, and he's clearly trying something bold and big to ensure the league's reputation and legitimacy in officiating gets amended as soon as possible.

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