Arizona Basketball

Pac-12 Referee Tracker: Days of familiarity with refs are gone



EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the controversy surrounding Sean Miller’s technical foul in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament, an event in which former Pac-12 director of officiating Ed Rush reportedly placed a bounty on Miller to be thrown out or given a technical, this site will monitor the league’s officials during the course of the season through the conference tournament in March. The integrity of the game and its officiating was called into question by Rush’s actions, which ultimately led to his resignation.

Dave Libbey was one of the familiar faces who wore the striped shirts

Dave Libbey was one of the familiar faces who wore the striped shirts

Growing up watching Pac-10 hoops, I remember the names of the referees as much as I recall the top players in the conference.

Booker Turner, Bob Garibaldi, Richie Ballesteros, Tom Harrington, Mark Reischling, Dave Libbey, etc., … these guys played a huge part in games and are etched in the memories of Pac-12 hoops followers.

Nowadays, the number of Pac-12 officials is so extensive — it reached an unbelievable 40 through Thursday’s games — that the familiarity is lost. That can be argued as a good thing.

But the memories of those who fans loathed are everlasting.

Who can forget Fred Snowden calling a timeout after a controversial call by Turner only to stare at Turner the entire timeout with the McKale Center crowd noise growing louder and louder throughout? What about Harrington giving Lute Olson a technical foul late in UCLA’s victory that snapped the 71-game winning streak at McKale in 1992?

And you must recall Ballesteros’ controversial goal-tending call against Loren Woods at Connecticut that cost the Wildcats the game in Storrs, Conn., in 2000.

Former Arizona player and assistant Josh Pastner remembers it well as he brought up the call to a reporter before Memphis hosted UConn this week.

Woods’ block of UConn’s Tony Robertson in the final seconds was a clean block. In that same season, Ballesteros was suspended two games by the Pac-10 for ejecting USC coach Henry Bibby after only one technical.

In the old days, Pac-10 fans could count on Turner, Libbey or Reischling, etc., to call the big games in the conference. These days, the bigger names — such as veteran Verne Harris — are calling games between lower-division teams while more significant games are on the schedule.

Harris worked the USC (0-4 in the Pac-12) at Utah (2-3) game Thursday night with two Pac-12 newcomers this year — guys named Kipp Kissinger (no relation to Henry) and Hal Lusk.

Meanwhile, for the Arizona-ASU game, little-used ref Bob Staffen was assigned to Tucson. Staffen’s only previous assignment this year was the forgettable Utah at Washington State game last Saturday in which neither team scored more than 50 points in the Cougars’ 49-46 win.

The following three charts involved a few hours of my time putting together data of league referees. I will update the data through the season. Here is a brief description of each:

Chart 1 and 2: Chart 1 indicates the referees who have officiated at least three Pac-12 games in the first three weeks of the season. Chart 2 lists all officials.

Within the graphic, it first lists the years the referees have worked college basketball games per

The conference record shown indicates the cumulative combined conference records of the teams at the time they played in the game called by the ref. For example, Nixon, who officiated the Pac-12 tournament title game last March between UCLA and Oregon, has worked in games this year that featured teams that were a combined 10-4 at tip off: (Arizona, 1-0, vs. Washington, 1-0; Oregon, 1-0, vs. Colorado, 1-0; Cal, 2-0, vs. Oregon State, 1-2; and Arizona, 3-0, vs. USC, 0-2).

The “Rank” column is the number of games called that involve AP Top 25 teams. Also listed are stats related to games called by a referee’s crew: Personal fouls, average of personal fouls, disqualifications, technical fouls, free-throw attempts and free-throw attempt average a game.

Chart 3 and 4: Chart 3 indicates the number of overall games called by a ref of a particular conference team. Chart 4 has the same principle but indicates only certain locations where the referee called a game.


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[csv src=] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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