Assignment Rules and Tips

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Assignments - Referee Magazine, August 2004

Dave Hall, D-I men's basketball official from Colorado, has climbed the ladder of officiating all the way to the Final Four (he worked this year's semifinal between Duke and UConn). Along the way he has dealt with his share of horizontal and vertical assignment opportunities.

"Without a doubt, the horizontal moves have to be avoided," he stresses. "Never, ever decline a game to take another on the same level, especially in college when you're working more than one conference. If such an opportunity does arise, stay out of it. Leave your ego aside and let the two assigners discuss the situation amongst themselves. There are plenty of stories of officials declining one game to take another, only to have the assignor of the first game show up at the second game or see it on television. When that happens, it's all over.

"For the vertical moves," Hall continues, "having an official be recognized for advancement to a higher level is a feather in the cap of the lower level assigner. It's a reflection of his or her training ability. So it would shock me if that assigner wouldn't share in the joy of the officials' success and do everything possible to help the official, provided of course, that the official has been honest from the start.

"That is, without a doubt, the key for the official who wants to move up properly and stay up, with the good schedule. Anything short of total honesty, (your) career is done."

Keep in mind, though, that the assignor still has to fill that game. The assigner may be happy that his or her officials are getting the opportunity to work higher level games, but that doesn't negate the fact that he or she still has a hole in the schedule. If it can't be filled, you are still responsible for that game.

In that case, etiquette demands you honor your original commitment. In fact, it's your business to do so.

Rich Winograd is a freelance writer and a high school basketball official in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The Rules of Assignments and Turnbacks ... with John Magnusson

John Magnusson is a veteran NCAA Division I umpire, who also serves as president of the Florida Collegiate Umpires Association. Referee asked John to look through his mask and come up with the three strikes that would cost any sports official an out when it comes to accepting and turning back games.

On Accepting or Declining Games

On Turnbacks