NCAA Basketball Referees Instructed to Call More Unsporting Technical Fouls

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NCAA Basketball Referees Instructed to Call More Unsporting Technical Fouls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Whack! Referee Ed Hightower issues an unsportsmanlike technical foul to Ohio State Buckeyes guard Emonte Jernigan during the 2003 NCAA Tournament

NCAA National Coordinator of Officials John Adams recently posted a memo on the NCAA Men's Basketball Central Hub at referee mega-site ArbiterSports, which serves as a mid-season point of emphasis, so to speak.

Adams, from his personal observations and discussions with regional advisers, concluded that "officials are reluctant to enforce Rule 10, Section 5," or the group of unsporting technical fouls informally known as the sportsmanship rules.

For a picture perfect example of an official correctly enforcing Rule 10, Section 5, watch the following video of Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Markel Brown receive his second technical and be ejected for taunting his opponent. Brown was issued his first technical for similar unsporting behavior.

Rule 10-5 contains a partial list of illegal unsportsmanlike acts, such as disrespectfully addressing or contacting an official, using profanity, taunting, inciting undesirable crowd reactions, flagrantly contacting an opponent while the ball is dead and fighting or leaving the playing court during a fight.

Adams mentions "minor unsporting indiscretions between opposing players," infractions of Rule 10-5 which are not called, but should be.

Adams instructs referees to "use preventative officiating...but also have very low tolerance for players who violate Article 1, especially when it comes to taunting, baiting, using profanity or threatening gestures towards opponents." Again, review the Markel Brown ejection for an example of what Adams is referring to and to see officials correctly enforce the rule as written.

OSU's Markel Brown recently received two technicals and was ejected for taunting. According to NCAA National Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating John Adams, unsporting technical fouls like those issued to Brown need to be called more often.

Adams concludes that, "We are doing a poor job of enforcing Rule 10, Section 5, as written. I know your coordinators and commissioners will support you if you properly apply this rule."

Though it might not be popular with fans, officials must recall page one of the NCAA (and NFHS) rules book, which states, "Respect. It's the name of the game: Sportsmanship is a core value of the NCAA."

The high school version is similar: "To maintain the sound traditions of this sport, encourage sportsmanship ... each athlete is responsible for exercising caution and good sportsmanship."

The NFHS has also selected "Sporting Behavior" as its No. 1 point of emphasis for the 2011-12 basketball season and has seen at least one high-profile dunking-related ejection at the high school level.

In December, Justise Winslow of St. John's high school in Houston Texas was ejected after receiving two technical fouls for two separate unsportsmanlike acts following a massive dunk.

With that, Adams instructs all officials to pay close attention to Rule 10, Section 5 and to enforce the rule when the situation warrants such an enforcement or penalty.

"These types of actions call for Technical fouls. Call them!"


Gil Imber is Bleacher Report's Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.

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