Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Conflict of Interest

Click here for AmazonI'm an Indiana basketball fan having grown up in the era of Bob Knight. I happened to watch the IU - Wisconsin game last night and was shocked at the horrid officiating. Sure, it's easy to claim you get jobbed by the officials when the calls go against you. But what happens if the announcers notice it, too? And not just once or twice, but multiple times throughout the game. Is something more insidious at work?

Before I get to the conspiracy theory, I'll give you an example. AJ Ratliff is an Indiana freshman who took a runner in the lane during the second half and was literally pulverized. The ball went over the backboard... limbs slapping other limbs... and there was no call. On the other hand, Wisconsin's talented forward Dan Wilkinson, drove against Robert Vaden, lost control, and stumbled into him. The announcers thought it was a travel or an offensive foul. Nope. Foul on Vaden.

What's my point? Just some bad officiating? Check out this bizarre conflict of interest as noted on, of all places, a University of Kentucky message board.

Now I'm not a big conspiracy guy, but take a look at this quote from the Philadelphia Daily News:

N is for Northern Iowa, which might be the first tournament school whose athletic director is an active referee (Rick Hartzell). So he won't be working any NIU games in the tournament, just as another elite official, Ed Hightower, won't be working any Southern Illinois games, seeing as how he is on the school's Board of Trustees.

Both of the officials mentioned in this paragraph, Rick Hartzell and Ed Hightower, officiated last night's "must-win" Indiana-Wisconsin game. Both of their schools, Northern Iowa and So. Illinois, are bubble teams for at-large bids. Indiana is the definition of a bubble team. Can we say "conflict of interest"?

Below is a link to the Hartzell's bio.

UNI Athletic Director and Referee

Click here for AmazonThis is an obvious, and completely unacceptable, conflict-of-interest. Many hundreds of thousands of dollars are riding on an NCAA bid... and the AD of a bubble team gets to officiate another bubble team's game.

And even ESPN's announcers noted the off-kilter officiating decisions.

CatsPause: Conflict of Interest

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