Sometimes you have to do something just to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The NCAA, which makes a lot of curious decisions, blew that one too.
I’m going back to the NCAA Division II West regional hosted, and not surprisingly won, by Western Washington on Tuesday night. The decision to let the school, located in Bellingham, host both the men’s and women’s eight-team regionals was a mind-boggling one on a lot of counts and I have addressed that.
But something else was brought to my attention. Turns out one of the referees who worked the semifinal game between Western Washington and Cal State San Bernardino, not only is from Bellingham, but owns a popular family restaurant adjacent to the campus which is frequented by the students.
Not only did he work that game, won by the Vikings 86-77, but he also worked the championship game in which Western defeated rival Seattle Pacific 62-58 for a berth in the Elite Eight.
How is that right?
No I wasn’t there. But I did watch the videocast of the Cal State game and there were some curious calls, many of which even the announcers, who were from Western Washington, questioned. There were two technical fouls on the Cal State bench. Fouls were 24-18 against Cal State and one Coyote fouled out despite playing seven whole minutes.
Was that the reason the Coyotes lost? Maybe but probably not. And I hate when a losing coach starts blaming the officiating – no matter what the sport. But why put yourself in the position to be questioned. All that had to be done is put the Bellingham resident official on the earlier semifinal between Cal Poly Pomona and Seattle Pacific and have one of those official work the latter game. Problem solved.
As far as the championship game, well there were enough officials on site he didn’t have to be one of the chosen three to work that game.
I’m sure that official worked several of that school’s game during the regular season. That’s fine. But this is the postseason where much more is at stake. The other schools in the eight-team field deserved a fair shake.