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Sleep is Not That Important to NCAA Referees

Posted on February 21, 2011

Wake up, Garfield! You have four games to referee in the next 6 days!

TV Teddy Valentine apparently doesn't need his beauty sleep. From Mike Miller's awesome Beyond the Arc blog:

Mike Kitts, Mike Sanzere and Ted Valentine worked the Saturday night game between Michigan State and Illinois in East Lansing, Mich., (a 9 p.m. ET tipoff), then made to West Lafayette, Ind., in time for the 1 p.m. tip between the Buckeyes and Boilermakers.

According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, that’s a 250-mile road trip that probably didn’t end until right around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Tough to get enough rest on that timetable.


Neither Purdue coach Matt Painter nor Ohio State coach Thad Matta criticized the officials for any calls. But Painter did note that it’s commonplace for officials – especially good ones like Kitts, Sanzere and Valentine – to work brutal schedules like that.

“Sometimes they’re going to do a late Saturday night game and an early Sunday and they travel – those guys are all three veterans, they’ve been through it. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to scrutinize that.”

Like Tim Higgins said: "It's not that hard. You have to concentrate for what, two hours?"

Mike Miller calls for a better ref training program from the conferences so that younger refs have the ability to perform in high-profile games. But that won't force crews featuring high-profile refs like Teddy Valentine from fighting for all the nationally-televised games. There has to be additional regulation so that a particular ref cannot be working 4 or more NCAA games -- not just conference games -- a week. You can't expect for the refs to police themselves if they are independent contractors who are competing for every referee dollar they can get from the conferences. And you can't let a ref embarrass himself with bad calls on national TV -- the free market method of ref quality control -- because his bad calls will unfairly penalize a probably-innocent team with a loss.

A weekly game limit would only be fair if it was counterbalanced with better per-game wages for the refs. If the conferences aren't prepared to do pay the refs more for working 3 or less games a week, then they should at least implement some travel/game-time restrictions. That would be harder to implement out west but ultimately necessary to ensure the physical and mental well-being of refs.

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  1. I would love for someone with time, money and statistical resources to look and see if there are any trends that show up when referees pull schedules like this. My guess is that those morning-after games probably feature more whistles if for no other reason then because the refs need breaks more often.

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