Clay Martin has been promoted to the referee position, according to senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron on Thursday. Martin was hired in 2015, along with another new referee, Shawn Smith, and worked all three seasons at the umpire position, which is commonly known to be a pipeline into becoming a referee. He worked on Ed Hochuli’s crew for his first two seasons, and worked last season under Carl Cheffers. Along with Smith, his pairing with Hochuli was key to set Martin for advancement, as well as serving under Carl Cheffers, who was coming off a Super Bowl LI assignment two seasons ago. Martin will be replacing Gene Steratore, who retired last week in pursuit of a position as a rules analyst for CBS.
Martin has one postseason assignment under his belt: the 2016 Wild Card Playoff between the Giants and Packers. However, he did not receive an on-field nor an alternate postseason assignment last season. Per league policy, he was ineligible for the postseason in his first year. He will also be ineligible in his first year as referee, if this policy remains in place for the upcoming season. Martin worked a preseason game last year as a referee between the Seahawks and Raiders as a tryout for the position in future years.
Martin is high school basketball coach from Jenks, Okla., and he began his football officiating career in 2005. He began his college career in 2007 with Conference USA as a line judge. At this position, he worked the 2011 Conference USA championship, the 2011 Outback Bowl, the 2012 Holiday Bowl, the 2014 Conference USA championship and the 2015 East-West Shrine Game. He worked the 2013 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl as a referee. Martin initially attended the University of Tulsa on football and basketball scholarships, but transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University to play basketball, helping his team reach the NAIA championship game in 1997.