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2023 XFL postseason

Michael VanderVelde is the XFL Championship referee

Michael VanderVelde follows up his Rose Bowl assignment with the XFL Championship Game.



Michael VanderVelde will be the referee for the first XFL Championship Game since the 2001 Million Dollar Game.

Vandervelde has his entire crew from the regular season for this game.

“We really felt like all of our crews did a really good job, but with Mike and his crew, they just stood out,” said vice president of officiating and playing rules innovation Dean Blandino in a news release. “Things you look for, especially from a referee: How do they manage the game? How do they communicate? Do they look like they’re in control? Mike just has that command.”

“The best referees that I’ve been around are the ones that are in control of the game, that have that command, that have that presence,” Blandino continued. “He has that. Sometimes football can get a little out of whack and crazy things can happen. He just seems to handle it really well.”

VanderVelde is handling his second major game of this calendar year. He headed the officiating crew in Penn State’s win in the Rose Bowl. He moved up from the Mountain West to the Big 12 Conference in 2020.

“We have unbelievable crews and unbelievable officials,” VanderVelde said in the news release. “To be selected was humbling. It’s an honor. We worked hard. Our crew worked exceptionally hard in the spring, as did everybody else.”

This is VanderVelde’s first season working any of the spring pro leagues, as is the case with four of his crewmates.

The replay official and ball spotter for the championship game were assigned to all Alamodome games this season.

    Pro League Yrs Conference 2022 bowls
R Michael Vandervelde 1 Big 12 ROSE
U Krystle Apellaniz 1 Mountain West HULA
DJ Rod Ammari 3 Pac-12 MUSIC CITY
LJ Darren Deckard 1 Big 12 PINSTRIPE BIG 12 CHAMP
FJ Conor Clougherty 1 ACC  
SJ Raymond Tate 1 SEC COTTON
BJ David Ross 3 Pac-12 DUKE’S MAYO
RO Brian Jones    
X Austin Wright    

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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