Don Vaden to oversee NBA officials

Don Vaden, a former NBA referee and the league's current coordinator of officials, has replaced Bernie Fryer as director of officials.

The appointment was made official on Friday. The news of Vaden's hiring was first reported Sept. 23 by ESPN The Magazine.

NBA president of league operations Joel Litvin says Vaden has worked in the officiating program for nine years and "is fully prepared to assume Bernie's role as manager of our referees."

The league said Friday that Fryer has some health issues that make him better suited for a role with less travel. Fryer will mentor and evaluate current referees and scout potential new ones.

Fryer succeeded Ronnie Nunn as director of officials in July 2008, but he has been dealing with unspecified health issues for the last two years, a league source said. Those issues have been resolved, but it was felt Fryer would be better served continuing in a less stressful role, the source said.

Vaden was ranked among the league's best referees by the end of his on-court tenure, which ran from 1988 to 2003. But he was also among eight referees charged with tax evasion in 1998 for downgrading first-grade plane tickets and not reporting the refunded money. He was found guilty and served six months' of home confinement and two years of probation.

After he retired from working games in 2003, Vaden accepted an off-court position with the league. Although several distinguished referees have recently retired -- most notably, Steve Javie, Bob Delaney and Mark Wunderlich -- the league named Vaden without interviewing anyone else or conducting an open search for Fryer's replacement, sources said.

Earlier this summer, the league laid off Nunn, Jim Wishmier and Mike Lauerman, who had been serving as group supervisors.

Former NBA referees Joe DeRosa, Joe Forte and Sean Corbin are expected to be added as advisors whenever the league returns to action from the current NBA lockout, sources said.

Ric Bucher is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.