NCAA Referees Must Be Held Accountable

Following the West Virginia Mountaineers’ loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, Head Coach Bob Huggins referred to the referees as “three blind mice” and said that he would like to see more consistency in how they call fouls.  This seemingly innocuous, innocent remark led to a public reprimand and a $10,000 fine.

College basketball is a fast-paced, challenging game to referee and making mistakes is natural under the conditions.  However, Huggins was absolutely correct when he said that consistency needs to be addressed.  Perhaps the “three blind mice” comment went too far or became too personal, but he certainly could have said much worse.

Hoping for consistent calls on both sides of the floor is not too much to ask.  While the most recent West Virginia game at Kansas was arguably the most evenly called game since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, it has not always been so fair.  When the Mountaineers traveled to Allen Fieldhouse back in 2017, the officiating crew of John Higgins, Keith Kimble and James Luckie gave Kansas 35 foul shots and West Virginia 2.  Kansas finished the game 26-35 and West Virginia was 1-2 on the way to a 77-69 loss in Lawrence.

Following the game, Huggins said “I’ve been doing this 40 years.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where we shot two free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the disparity was 35-2. I’ve never been in a game like that.”

This officiating crew was not disciplined, not fined, not publicly reprimanded.  They moved on without taking any responsibility whatsoever for their egregious, shocking foul disparity.  It’s utterly impossible to have such a huge difference in foul shots in a college basketball game.  IMPOSSIBLE.

And so the referees are blind or they are corrupt or they are unintentionally, subconsciously affected by the home crowd, and none of these options are okay.  These are grown men paid to call the game fairly and should have to face the media in the same way that coaches do.  This game is too important and means too much to too many people to allow this madness to go on any longer.