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Dotson Lewis' Blog

Dotson’s note: Having work with the officials for more than 20 NCAA tournaments, I thought you might be interested an inside look at the “Third Team” on the court. 




John Adams Coordinator of Officials for the NCAA explains how officials are evaluated and chosen to advance to later rounds in the NCAA tournament:

·      Mobility. We're looking for guys that can keep up with the game.

·      Probably even more important than keeping up with the game is you've got to get the plays right. Every time they blow a whistle, we're looking at them. We have an evaluator on site. We are in a control room the first week in Atlanta watching all the games all at once, with ability to call producer to show us any call of any game at any time.

·      Being an adequate communicator. During the NCAA tournament, we stress to the officials we do not want prolonged conversations with coaches. It works two ways. We want the coaches to be able to coach, but we don't want our officials to what we call babysitting coaches throughout a tournament game. If a coach has a specific question and he's entitled to an answer, we want it to be concise but get back to refereeing the basketball game.

·      Manage major moments. You get some obscure situation comes up, did the officials handle it properly? End of the game, a crucial call, did we get it right?

In addition, four officials will work the two First Four games in Dayton. The other 96 officials selected to work the NCAA tournament will work the first weekend sites. Each site has one of four regional advisors, who will grade each official on every call by noon the next day.

Seven officials are pre-assigned by the NCAA tournament to stay to officiate the second day of games (the round of 32). The six who perform best in their opening-round games will officiate, with the seventh referee being on standby.

After the first weekend of games, Adams and his regional advisors have a conference call discuss the performances of officials and choose referees for regionals by Monday afternoon, at which time they notify officials. The same process is duplicated a week later to pick Final Four officials.


Talk about pressure…this is it!