Freed Up

by December 28, 2011

by Ray Glier

John Adams, coordinator of officials for the NCAA, is willing to hire retired NBA referees to call college games, but personnel is not all Adams wants to borrow from the League.

He wants to copy the NBA philosophy of strict adherence to the rule book.

“We need to steal from the NBA,” Adams (right) says. “They have been about freedom of movement and about rhythm, speed, balance, quickness or RSBQ. They are about officiating as more of a science, and less of an art, and about recognizing and reacting.”

What Adams has been trying to weed out of the college game, among other things, is the hand check by the defender with the referee waiting to see if it disrupts the play. Adams insists a foul is a foul, whether the dribbler loses control or not. It used to be calls were made along the lines of “advantage/disadvantage.” Interpretation: There had to be some mayhem for a foul to be called.

Josh Pastner, the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, says college coaches have been duly warned. “The early part of the season, you better adjust to it because they’re calling it,” Pastner says. “What I like is the terminology Mr. Adams uses, which is: ‘Call the rule book.’ Instead of emphasizing certain rules this year, it is ‘call the rules as they are written.’ If you do that, it allows much more freedom of movement.”

Adams does not have authority over officials, per se. Their bosses are the respective officials’ coordinators of various conferences. But he can decide who officiates the NCAA Tournament, which is a poke to officials to follow the “rule book” mandate.

The college game had become too physical, Adams says, and he wants officials to stop that. “People say, ‘Let the players decide who wins the game, not the officials.’ The players do decide. When they decide to foul, it was them who made that decision, not the official. The official just called it.”