Study: Venue Influences College Refs

by November 18, 2009

Indiana and Ball State professors measured college officials’ “fairness” by examining the number and timing of fouls called during games. By studying 365 major conference games — regular season, neutral-court conference tournament games, and neutral-court NCAA tournament games — they found this:

• The probability of a foul being called on the visiting team was 7 percent higher than on the home team.

• When the home team is leading, the probability of the next foul being called on them is about 6.3 percentage points higher than when the home team is trailing.

• The larger the foul differential between two teams, the greater the likelihood that the next call will be made against the team with fewer fouls. For example, when a home team has three or more fouls than the visiting team, the probability that the next foul call is made against the visiting team is more than 60 percent. When the foul differential is as high as five, then that probability rises to 69 percent. The researchers also observed this trend when they looked at neutral-court games.