NCAA's officiating head offers review

July, 21, 2010

After reviewing the officiating during the NCAA tournament, John Adams wants to make one thing clear: If a foul is committed, then it should be called, regardless of when it occurs in the game.

Adams, the NCAA's head of officiating, completed his visits with the four Final Four head coaches Tuesday after meeting with West Virginia's Bob Huggins. He took the feedback he received from Huggins, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Butler's Brad Stevens after meeting with each over the past month on their respective campuses and reviewed the rest of the NCAA games, heard from various officials and then rendered his opinions.

Adams has been trying to rid college basketball officiating of the culture of not wanting to upset coaches. The officials don't want to create winning and losing situations. As far as Adams is concerned, if a player commits a foul, he has decided the game, not the official. He said he doesn't understand the statement that the officials are "letting them play."

Officials miss calls. Some work 70-plus games a year as independent contractors for multiple leagues and on as many as five consecutive nights a week. If you wanted to use the national title game as an example, you could point to when Duke's Brian Zoubek tossed Butler's Matt Howard down and wasn't called for his fifth foul. The ball went off Zoubek's foot with 13.6 seconds left and the Blue Devils up one point. After Gordon Hayward missed the first of two potential game-winning shots, it was Zoubek who retrieved the rebound.

Adams' point is that when officials make calls, the accuracy rate is around 90 percent. Adams brought up another point from the national semifinal when West Virginia lost to Duke. Miles Plumlee was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim, much to the dismay of Krzyzewski. But it's a rule and official Curtis Shaw called the play correctly.

"That's the rule, that's a technical," Adams said. "The press reacted to it that they don't need to call it. But why should Curtis not enforce a rule? If it's a bad rule, then change the rule."

Adams made sure the Final Four coaches knew that his point of emphasis this season is to enforce the rules as they are written.

Adams said basketball won't go back to the "old-fashioned freedom of movement because the players are bigger and faster and stronger but the court dimensions haven't changed."

The NCAA rules committee did adopt an experimental rule, effective during the NIT Season Tip-Off, regarding the semi-circle area where blocks and charges are called. The semi-circle will be two feet from the center of the basket versus the NBA's four feet.

"What I like best is that we have a dialogue going on between me, coaches, officials and the media," Adams said. "There are a lot of good ideas out there and we want to listen to all folks who deserve a seat at the table. It will help our game."

Adams said what he likes best about the changes in officiating is how they can use monitors to review issues concerning time and score (3-pointer vs. two-pointer) and a flagrant fouls -- unlike in the World Cup, where human error in officiating led to goals not being allowed when replays showed otherwise.

"Coming on the heels of that debacle where they refuse to look at [replay], we have myriad possibilities where we can go to the monitor to fix the problem before we leave the floor," Adams said. "We're pretty good about going to the monitor to get the play right."

Adams has given a face to NCAA officiating. He can't control how many games an official works because they are independent contractors. He doesn't have jurisdiction over the conferences during the regular season. But he is in control of the NCAA tournament. And that's the most important time. He reaches out to the coaches, is accessible to the media and attempts to ensure all parties that officials are held accountable. Most important on his agenda: If there is a foul to be called, then call it, regardless of the situation in the game.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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