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Pac-12 audit concludes no big changes are needed in officiating department

Nine months after the Pac-12 lost officiating credibility, an auditing firm releases its findings.



Nine months after a report that a Pac-12 senior vice president (who had no officiating experience) countermanded an instant replay decision, and four months after three retired Pac-12 officials sent an open letter barbecuing Pac-12 leadership, the conference released the results of its officiating audit.

According to the Pac-12, the independent review found that the conference doesn’t have to make any major changes.

Sibson Consulting concluded that Pac-12 officiating is “predominantly consistent with best practices in the industry.” Auditors suggest that the Pac-12 adopt a replay manual to codify the process — a process that excludes Pac-12 non-officiating leadership from making a ruling.

Auditors also suggest that the Pac-12 better train observers and supervisors in evaluating and grading the officials so evaluations and feedback are more consistent. The report also calls on the conference to provide more training resources for its officials.

Perhaps most importantly, the audit recommends that director of officiating, David Coleman, report directly to commissioner Larry Scott, and not to Woodie Dixon, Pac-12 general counsel and senior vice president for business affairs. Dixon was the one who countermanded the instant replay decision last fall that touched off the entire controversy. We noted at the time that someone representing the business interests of the conference brings an inherent conflict with impartiality. If this change is implemented, it would keep Pac-12 officiating out of the upper management turf wars that sometimes erupt in big businesses.

To conclude: aside from codifying the instant replay process, more training and a change in the chain-of-command, things remain basically the same. Pac-12 football officials now enter the 2019 season with more direction, less outside pressures, and more professional development tools, as long as these recommendations are carried out.

This will hopefully improve the overall officiating product on the field.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"