Big East Suspends Refs—Right Call?

Kyle WilkersonContributor IFebruary 26, 2010

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 28: NCAA referee Jeff Flanagan signals a score as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets play against the Clemson Tigers in the 2009 ACC Football Championship Game December 5, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Big East decided to suspend two referees from the Big East Tournament, following controversial calls in West Virginia's victory over Louisville earlier this month.

Mike Kitts, who won the Naismith Award for the nation's best referee, and long-time official Jim Haney, will not be officiating in the Big East Tournament.

While it is nice to see the Big East take a proactive stance in disciplining their officials, it is not necessarily the right one.

Louisville thought they were on the wrong end of the call when, with seconds remaining in the game, the ball went off a Louisville player. Louisville coach, Rick Pitino, felt the ball went of West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks. None of the officials made an initial call, and went to the replay monitor to look at how much time was left on the clock.

However, some feel they used the replay to see who the ball last touched, which is not allowed according to NCAA rules, and, with no initial call made, it should have went to the possession arrow, which favored Louisville. 

In the end, they made the correct call, as the ball did indeed go off a Louisville player.

Why is the league just now suspending these two refs? With the officiating this year being horrible throughout college basketball, will this really make a difference?

I do agree referees need to be held accountable, but there should be a discipline system in place, and not just suspending officials based on one bad game. That would set a bad precedent.

And while the league says Pitino did not influence their decision, can we really be sure? Louisville is one of the "traditional" teams in the Big East, and with them having a down year, were not a lock to make the NCAA Tournament at the time of the game. Is the Big East protecting one of their own?

This also makes one wonder if this disciplinary action will head over to the football field in the fall. In the West Virginia-Cincinnati football game, West Virginia appeared to hold Cincinnati on fourth down from West Virginia's 1 yard line. However, the call went up to the booth for review.

After roughly a five-minute delay, the replay official reversed the call.

Cincinnati was undefeated and looking to play in the BCS National Championship Game. A loss to WVU would have ended those hopes. A replay can only be reversed after indisputable evidence, which five-minutes worth of review is not indisputable. The replay official was not disciplined for that call.

This is not limited to the Big East either. Since Kentucky's rise back to the top of college basketball this year, they have gotten a majority of the calls.

Who can forget the Arkansas-Florida football game? What about Patrick Peterson of LSU's non-interception versus Alabama? Even former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin hinted at the poor officiating after Tennessee's loss to Alabama.

Then there was the mysterious second placed back on the clock during the Big XII Championship Game, which favored then No. 2 Texas.

This is an NCAA problem. Until the referees are not conference affiliated, the traditional powers, and the top ranked teams, will continue to get the majority of the calls. It's in the league’s best interest to have more teams ranked. 

The more teams that are ranked, means more money for the league. And money controls everything. Non-conference affiliated referees and a review system, will hopefully improve the quality of officiating.   

So, in the end, what does it all mean? For one, the Big East is going to take a proactive stance in disciplining officials. With the officiating in college basketball being down this year, it will be nice to have the referees be held accountable. 

The downfall is if one bad game gets a referee suspended, the Big East could be looking at very few referees down the line.