Having now seen the tape of the infamous IU/Wisconsin game, I'm really steamed. Despite an apparent conflict of interest, University of Northern Iowa Athletic Director Rick Hartzell and Southern Illinois Trustee Ed Hightower officiated the game. Many of the calls in the game, to put it mildly, stunk. Don't take my word for it, read what the Kentucky fans think (and they certainly have no love lost for IU).
Indiana, a bubble team, ended up losing the game on a series of (what seemed to me, at least) preposterous calls. Even ESPN's announcers mentioned the strange calls against IU. Just a coincidence? Perhaps, but here are the standings for Hartzell's and Hightower's two teams in the MVC, which also appear to be the very definitions of bubble teams:
You may ask why two men -- whose schools have so much to gain by making the NCAA tournament -- are officiating a game involving another bubble team, the Indiana Hoosiers?
Good question. I have the same question. And I think it's one worth asking the NCAA about. Here's some contact information. Be polite and ask them about their policy of referees affiliated with or employed by Division I schools refereeing the games of other schools in direct competition for lucrative NCAA Tournament slots.
I've also included a couple of PR contacts at the NCAA: they can be asked whether the NCAA has reviewed this incident and whether this practice will be prohibited in the future.
|Mailbox: Send a message to Division I Basketball Officiating Mailbox|
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
700 W. Washington Street
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-6222
Phone: 317/917-6222 Fax: 317/917-6888
Email: Div. I Mens Basketball Officiating
Email: Erik Christianson, Director of Public and Media Relations
Email: Gail Dent, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations
If you have a blog, please post an article about this practice. As of this writing, there is no mainstream media coverage of this incident or the apparent conflict of interest of this type of practice. And that's just not right, given the huge dollars attached to making the NCAA Tournament.