Mike Defee, a former Big 12 referee and current referee trainer for the NFL, is the new coordinator of football officials for Conference USA.
Defee replaces Gerald Austin. Defee will retain his post as a trainer for referees and new NFL officials. Austin will continue to work with the conference in a different role, according to information the late Russ Anderson, an assistant commissioner, told Football Zebras in February.
Conference USA announced the news today. In the news release, Defee said:
I am excited for the opportunity to lead and develop Conference USA’s football officiating program. I look forward to working with our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials. Our officiating program will be based on honesty and transparency. Our focus will be on the training and development of our officials with an emphasis placed on accuracy and consistency.
Defee got a late start in officiating, starting in 1995 at the age of 33, working high school football in Texas. He worked his way up through the college ranks, joining the Big 12 conference in 2006 as a back judge and became a Big 12 referee in 2010.
Once in the Big 12 several high-profile games and post-season bowl games, but fans took notice during the 2017 national championships game. Defee has been a avid weight-lifter for decades and TV viewers took note of his physique.
This hire comes on the heels of the NFL announcing an officiating partnership with select college conferences to strengthen “the officiating pipeline.” Conference USA was not involved in the partnership, and the conference is not part of a multi-conference officiating consortium. But, Conference USA officials can take heart that a person who is employed to train NFL officials will now be their supervisor, so they will get plenty of looks to go to the pros.
Congratulations to Mike Defee and best wishes as he leads Conference USA football officials.