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The NCAA has long been criticized for being a dictatorial, almost totalitarian regime in how it deals with its member institutions. The criticism has bordered on antitrust issues with regards to postseason play, recruiting rules, as well as media rights and funding. When it comes to college basketball, many schools have been critical of officials for what they call “inconsistent calls” during games. In certain parts of the country the criticism had gotten so bad that some conferences went so far as to institute mandatory fines to punish coaches for publicly criticizing referees.
The problem has been that in certain conferences referees make calls one way, while in others they make them another way. What a referee in the PAC-10 considers a personal foul may just be physical play in the Big-10 or Big-East. This results in teams, coaches, and players becoming accustomed to things being called a certain way during the season only to have that change when it comes time for the postseason. This becomes understandably frustrating for all parties involved.
Yet, the NCAA has rarely, if ever, commented on trying to do anything about its referees — usually leaving things to the individual conferences. However, that all changed this week as the NCAA announced it was creating two limited liability companies (one for men’s basketball and another for women’s) with the hope being that the rules for college basketball can be implemented and enforced under one consistent banner. The NCAA has said its goal in doing this is to create “consistent standards, standardized education and evaluation programs, and an expanded pool of officials.” By nationalizing the standards for its referees, the NCAA hopes it can significantly cut into the complaints it has been hearing from its coaches during its post-season tournaments because teams can now get used to how referees will call games over the course of the entire season — as opposed to being surprised by them when it comes to March Madness.
– Richard Jacques
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