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In a year of awakening, Big Ten fields a historic officiating crew

The Big Ten opens its 2020 season by fielding an all African-American officiating crew in Minneapolis.



The Big Ten conference began its covid-19-belated season this weekend and officiating coordinator Bill Carollo put together a special crew for the Michigan-Minnesota game at Minneapolis, the home of George Floyd.

Carollo put together an all African-American officiating crew to call the game for the first time at the Power Five level in history.

R Larry Smith
U Ed Feaster
H William McKoy
L Dorsey Skinner
F Lamont Simpson
S LaShell Nelson
B Robert Smith Jr.
C Greg Nelson
Alt Calvin Diggs
Replay James Robinson
Communicator Terry Young
Timer Darrel Leftwich

According to the conference, 22% of Big Ten football officials are minorities or women.

Larry Smith and Reggie Smith are the current two Big Ten referees of color; current NFL referees Shawn Smith and Ron Torbert were Big Ten referees. Amanda Sauer-Cook became the first woman to be a referee for a Big Ten conference game in 2017

This is history a long time in the making. A century ago, football officials were specifically singled by the color of their skin, as shown in the 1920 Spalding Official Foot Ball Guide.

In 2020 the Big Ten celebrates its diversity.

Pictured above (l-r): Darrel Leftwich, LaShell Nelson, James Robinson, Gregory Nelson, Terry Young, Calvin Diggs, Commissioner Kevin Warren, Ed Feaster (on the 50-yard line), Gil Marchman, Larry Smith, Lamont Simpson, Will McKoy, Dorsey Skinner, Robert Smith Jr.

Photos: University of Minnesota Athletics/Brad Rempel via Big Ten Conference. Football Zebras archive.

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?"

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