NCAA Needs to Commit Further to Instant Replay in College Basketball

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NCAA Needs to Commit Further to Instant Replay in College Basketball
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle is still fuming today.

Arizona beat CU last night 92-83 in overtime, but it’s not just the loss that made Boyle angry. It is the way the loss happened.

Senior guard Sabatino Chen hit a buzzer-beating bank shot from beyond the arc as time expired in regulation. After reviewing the video for several minutes, the referees overturned the on-court call and disallowed the shot, and the game went into overtime.

Buzzer beater? YouTube.com

Boyle’s blood boiled because he thought that the refs got it wrong after they looked at the video, as he told Andy Katz of ESPN.com:

Get rid of instant replay. In basketball, football, human error is part of our game. If human error is part of the game, let the officials call the game. Players, coaches and officials will make mistakes. It's part of the game.

We spend all this money on replays and we still can't get it right. Get rid of it.

Ed Rush, the Pac-12 coordinator of officials, commented on how the situation was handled:

Game officials reviewed video replays of the end of regulation in accordance with NCAA playing rules and determined the ball was still on the shooters' fingertips when the official game clock on the floor expired. Per Conference protocol, the officials conducted a thorough review court side and viewed multiple angles of the play before confirming the ruling. I have reviewed the video replays and agree with the ruling.

College basketball has incorporated instant replay into a limited portion of the game.

Surprisingly, very little can be found online about the official stance of the NCAA in terms of instant replay use in college basketball.

Wikipedia’s “Instant Replay” page says that video footage can:

…be used to determine if a shot was released before time expired in either half or an overtime period. In addition, NCAA rules allow the officials to use instant replay to determine if a field goal is worth two or three points, who is to take a free throw, whether a fight occurred and who participated in a fight. The officials may also check if the shot was made before the expiration of the shot clock, but only when such a situation occurs at the end of a half or an overtime period. Such rules have also required the NCAA to write new rules stating that, when looking at instant replay video, the zeros on the clock, not the horn or red light, now determine the end of the game.

Using instant replay in the above mentioned situations is not only acceptable, it is a fantastic idea. When the outcome of a game is on the line, the right call should be made.

In a situation like last night, if I was one of the members of the crew working that game, I would have been thankful to have tape to look at on the spot. If it confirmed the decision on the court, that’s great. If it overturned the decision on the court, that’s equally great.

Instant replay use is not available to replace human decision; it’s provided to aid in the making of a correct decision of a call that is executed by officials, who may or may not have seen the play as clearly as needed.

Instant replay use also doesn’t eliminate the possibility of mistakes. The hope is that a crew of three people who are able to evaluate what just took place can and will make the right call.

In most cases, they do.

If I was a CU fan and my team’s win was “snatched away,” I would be just as irate as Boyle. However, I also would hope that I could step away from the passion of the moment and still want whatever is going to help make the right decisions inside the game I love.

College basketball should not listen to Tad Boyle this time. Getting rid of instant replay doesn’t help refs make the correct ruling. It just takes one option away that could assist imperfect individuals in doing their job.

The NCAA should look to move confidently forward in the use of instant replay. The moments when instant replay is used don't need to be increased, but there is no rational reason to get rid of it.

Sorry, Tad.

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