Blog Entry

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

Posted on: March 25, 2008 9:54 am

The officiating in this NCAA tournament has ranged from bizarre to plain bad, a problem whose roots can be traced to the NBA scandal involving alleged point-shaving referee Tim Donaghy. The NCAA wanted to avoid any such nefariousness and subjected its potential tournament officials to background checks. Good idea.


Bad execution. Two of the college game's top officials, Jim Burr and John Higgins, found themselves ensnared in the process -- not because of background issues, but because of timing issues. For various reasons, Burr and Higgins weren't able to be cleared before the NCAA's deadline. Again, there was nothing objectionable about those two in particular. They've been allowed to officiate games in the 2008 NIT, also run by the NCAA. They just couldn't get cleared in time for the big event.


Removing two top officials from the NCAA tournament pool has done nothing to help the quality of the on-court product. The officiating for the Georgetown-Davidson game was almost as bad as Stephen Curry was good. Hoyas center Roy Hibbert in particular was treated unfairly, or incompetently, by officials who turned every 50-50 call against him ... and made some 90-10 calls against him as well. That's no excuse for the Hoyas. Even without Hibbert the Hoyas led Davidson by 17 in the second half. You don't blame that loss on the officials. But the officials were awful.


They might have been worse in Omaha, where my colleague Dennis Dodd was so appalled by the officiating that he devoted his entire column from his second-round game to the men in stripes.


And then you have Curtis Shaw, the most volatile official in the game. Shaw is the guy who ejected ISU coach Larry Eustachy in a 2000 Elite Eight game. He's the guy whom the SEC unofficially banned from working its games because of his temper And he's the guy who ejected Stanford's Trent Johnson on Saturday in the second round. Johnson became the fifth guy ejected from a game officiated this season by Shaw. Most zebras go an entire year without ejecting anyone.


It says something about the quality of officiating in college basketball when Curtis Shaw continues to work important games. Then again, there's a shortage of officials. Two of the best weren't eligible to work the 2008 NCAA tournament. Yet they were allowed -- by the NCAA -- to work the NIT. Explain that one.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: March 28, 2008 11:48 am

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

that is just a horrible statement - you can definitely blame a ref for the outcome of a game.  Three examples to be clear.  Georgetown/Villanova game - the ref calls a foul 80 feet from the basket with the score tied.  Nova fought back to get in that game - so how can you go ahead and say Nova should have pulled away in that game when they were losing most of it?   Georgetown/West Virginia - Georgetown won the game on a controversial block shot that could have been called a goal tend - true West Virgina blew the lead in that one but that non call cost them the game and finally the Cal/UCLA about 2 weeks ago - Josh SHipps shot over the back board counted costing Cal the game.  So you can 100% blame bad calls on refs for losing the game.  These are 3 examples if the ref makes the correct call the other team wins - so how can you say one call in 40 mins does not blow a game?

Since: Oct 9, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2008 9:33 am

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

You can't sit there and blame bad calls for a team losing a game. One call out of a 40 minute game does not cost a team a game. Teams have enough chances in games to put it away, to get themselves out of a position where one call can change the game like that. Miscues cost teams games, not referees.

Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: March 27, 2008 12:15 am

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

The officiating in college basketball is downright awful.I bet I have watched 20 games this year in which a bad call has cost a team the game.Who is hiring these guys?

Since: Oct 9, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2008 11:37 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

"Honestly, I don't want my favorite college team(s) to take marginal students who just also happen to be basketball whiz kids. If a college offers a scholarship to a prospect, I see that as a contract between the school and the prospect: You play for us for four years, and we'll pay for your education for four years. Anything less is unacceptable."

If only that could be the case. So many players these days are only worried about making money...they think they don't need to go to class, or they do go to class and are given things. That just creates a disadvantage for them later in life. Of course, there are some really good students out there, like the Emmekcer kid from Drake. Craig Krenzel, the old Ohio State QB who went on to med school comes to mind. I guess it's just a choice each kid has to make, "Am I going to take advantage of the opportunities around me, or am I going to do just enough to get by?"

You're also right about some kids not being capable of college work...and that's okay, not everyone is cut out for it. There should be some sort of system for players like that. Regular folks can go to a tech school and learn a trade within a couple years, and they're fine. It's too bad there's not something like that for ball players.

Coaches are in a bind, too. Everyone talks about graduation rates and academics, but if a coach goes 32-2 and makes a deep run in the NCAA's, everyone doesn't think about grad rates as much. If that same coach goes 10-25 but graduates 100% of his players, he'll be shown the door.

I think everyone has a hand in these problems, and surely there has to be a system they can come up with together to look out for the best interests of the kids involved.

Since: Oct 9, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2008 11:20 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

Doyel said JOHN Higgins...not Tim. Read better next time.

Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: March 26, 2008 7:11 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

Being an ex basketball referee I would like to weigh in on this subject.  There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the reffing proffession and some have been talked about in this blog.  Missed calls, are usually due to poor judgement, poor positioning, or poor game management.  Refs don't give calls to players or teams, 99% of the time.  Some still live (incorrectly) by the philosophy that your game runs smoother if the foul totals are close at the end of the game.  That is some old school B.S. that is mostly out of the game these days.  The game is the game,  how the calls shake out usually is determined by the play, and random missed calls that happen during the night based on the 3 things I already mentioned.  Consistency is what everyone wants.  Unfortunately the NCAA tournament is where you see the most inconsistant and odd officiating of the year.  Here is why.  The NCAA has no true organization when it comes to officiating.  Conferences hire, train, and schedule their own referees.  There is usually consistancy within the conference, but it will vary greatly by conference.  Guess what the NCAA does at tournament time.  Mixes referees among their 3 man crews from the different conferences.  So now people are working with refs they are not familiar with.  Call selection is different, moving on the floor to get into position is different.  Why are call selection and floor positioning different?  Because the NCAA has one meeting at the beginning of the season to go over points of interest for the upcoming season.  One.  That is the extent of the training received from the NCAA for officials.  The conferences then are left to educate, train, and evaluate their officials on their own.  Some conferences have better officiating programs than others.  There are some officials out there that are too old to run up and down the floor and keep up with the players, that are considered the best and work the best games, because they have been doing it forever.  You have to be in the right posiition to see the play, before you can call a foul.  Most bad calls on good blocked shots are because the ref guessed, usually because they were out of position.  Some conferences have good programs to develop younger referees and have them work Division 2, Juco, and NAIA leagues under their umbrella.  There is a huge difference from West coast officiating and East coast, mainly because those officials never work together because of geography. 

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: March 26, 2008 6:50 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

How many former Division I college players are officials? Probably not many. The problem with officiating stems from this premise: players have gotten bigger, faster, stronger, but officials are on about the same level as before. And if everyone around you is better, that makes you worse.

Why WOULD anyone want to officiate? I've worked college intramural games, and that is no fun whatsoever. What real incentive is there to be a D-I ref and risk the ire that we're throwing at them in columns like this?

Since: Feb 6, 2008
Posted on: March 26, 2008 4:44 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: March 26, 2008 3:52 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

Doyal said John Higgins not Tim

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: March 26, 2008 3:43 pm

It's Tim Donaghy's fault

I may not have made myself as clear as I intended.  I'm not blaming the colleges for doing what they have to do to be competitive.  I'm blaming the influence of the NBA for making things the way they are.  If the NBA would police itself by drafting 22-year-olds, kids would be able to focus on learning the game in high school and college.  They would be better players in the long run than all those "so-so" talents who end up sitting on the bench for 4 or 5 years waiting for their chance.  If a kid isn't capable of college work, they wouldn't be forced to go for a year or two, which only forces the universities to lie by calling them student-athletes.  That's what the NBA developmental league would be for--to provide a setting where players could let their game mature.  At 22, all of them would be better-prepared for the entire NBA experience, both physically AND mentally.

Honestly, I don't want my favorite college team(s) to take marginal students who just also happen to be basketball whiz kids.  If a college offers a scholarship to a prospect, I see that as a contract between the school and the prospect:  You play for us for four years, and we'll pay for your education for four years.  Anything less is unacceptable.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or