Becoming A Basketball Official

Becoming A Basketball Official

by Bill Knight

The process to become a basketball official begins each year in September in many states. Each state has a High School Athletic Association that oversees the approval of new officials. Depending on the state, this approval may also be called licensing, certification, registration or some combination for different levels. State association approval is generally required to officiate High School varsity games and may also be required for many sub-varsity, elementary school, middle school, recreation, travel league and AAU games.

Generally, the minimal requirements for approval are a passing grade on a state association approved basketball official examination and affiliation with a state approved officials association. The most widely used exam is provided by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS). A second, widely used exam is provided by the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO).

Procedures for approval vary from state to state. A summary of procedures for selected states is presented at the end of this article.

If you need help in starting the process of becoming a basketball official, suggests the following steps.

1. Identify and consult with one or more basketball officials in your local area who you respect and who are highly regarded as basketball officials.

2. Check your state association web site for information on becoming an official. A list of state association links (Basketball Officiating) is available on

3.Identify and research local associations in your area that recruit basketball officials. Research could include viewing an association website and talking to current members or other officials and coaches familiar with the association. includes links (Basketball Officiating) to local association web sites throughout the United States and in some foreign countries.

4. Select and contact a local association and arrange to complete the requirements for state association approval. As previously noted, this is likely to included enrolling in a course and passing an exam. A fee is likely to be charged for both activities as well as an additional membership fee after you are approved as an official.

5. If you reach a dead end, send an email to or post a message to the Officials Forum for basketball. The officiating community is expansive and includes many knowledgable officials willing to help you.

New Official Procedure Summaries For Selected States

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Commission (CIAC) requires certification by one of 55 local boards before enrolling in the CIAC Officials' Association (see officials page).

The Illinois High School Association has a (licensing procedure for officials. To become an IHSA official, you'll need to fill out an application, submit three character references, and take an open-book rules test. Once you are licensed, you'll need to attend an annual rules meeting that will introduce you to the latest rule changes and interpretations.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association has a licensing procedure for officials. To become an IHSAA official complete and submit your application with fee. You will receive a rule book, a test date and a test location. The test is the NFHS 100 question true/false exam which require a 75% score to pass.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association has online registration here (Basketball Officiating). To become an IHSAA official complete and submit your online registration application with payment. You will receive a rule book and instructions. The test is the NFHS 100 question true/false exam which require a 75% score to pass.


To officiate varsity sports at the high school level, you must become a registered official with the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL at register). This involves registering with the League, paying the registration fee, attending a rules meeting in the sport(s) of your choice and passing a rules test. To register, click on Registration. Rules Interpretation Meeting Schedule will be available June 1st.

To learn more about becoming a referee, and how to find games to work, contact a local official's association in your sport. Select the Officials Associations link. You can also contact your local high school Athletic Director if you are interested in being an official for games below the varsity level.

If you have questions or need further information, please do not hesitate to call the League office at 763-560-2262.

An online official registration application is available from the MSHSAA at here (Basketball Officiating). To become an official, complete the application form and return it to the MSHSAA anytime after June 1. Include a check (payable to the MSHSAA) for the first sport in which you want to be licensed plus $25 for every other sport. When your application and check arrive, the MSHSAA will forward a packet of study materials to you. You will then take an open-book exam in your home, return the exam to the MSHSAA, and upon passing, your license will be sent to you.

Officials are designated as registered, then approved, then certified by the Nebraska School Activities Association (more info).

New Jersey
7 of the 10 certified local associations in New Jersey are IAABO boards. 2 of the remaining boards are targeted to serving female teams and the third (CEJBO) serves the Central New Jersey area along with IAABO boards. A candidate may select one of the IAABO boards and enroll in a 10 week cadet class. The class starts in September and prepares enrollees for the national IAABO test in November. Cadets who pass the test with a score of 87% or better and meet any additional officials association requirements are certified by the state association (more info).

The 3 non-IAABO boards have separate procedures for obtaining official certification from NJSIAA.

An individual becomes eligible to officiate for an OSSAA member school in a specific sport(s) by enrolling with the OSSAA as an official in the sport(s) and making a passing grade of 75% on the NFHS Examination for the sport(s). An official who does not complete his/her enrollment by testing and making a passing grade in the sport(s) in which he/she is enrolled will be "ineligible" to officiate for OSSAA member schools in the sport(s). An "ineligible official" who officiates for an OSSAA member school places himself/herself into a possible liability situation, jeopardizes the OSSAA catastrophic insurance coverage provided member schools, and causes the school to be fined. The official will also face disciplinary action by the OSSAA.

To enroll as an official, go to the registration page at OSSAA enrollment.

In each sport enrolled, an official will be given two chances to pass the appropriate National Federation Part I Examination. The minimum score is 75 percent. In sports where a Part II Examination is used for rating purposes, an official will be given only one opportunity to pass the Part II Examination.

Out-of-state officials who are enrolled in their resident state’s activities association for the current school year in a sport(s), may enroll in that sport(s), with the OSSAA. Out-of-state officials who are enrolled in the resident state’s activities association for the current school year will not receive rule books for sport(s) in which enrolled, but must be tested by the OSSAA for record purposes and will receive information materials for those sports. Out of state officials who are tested and make a passing grade of 75 percent on their examination(s) will be eligible to officiate in Oklahoma in the tested sport(s). This must be done on an annual school year basis.

The Pennsylvania State Association ( administers the NFHS test 4 times a year in February, June, August (Harrisburg only) and October. A passing score of 75% or better is required for registration. A registered official may affiliate with a local state approved chapter of his or her choosing.

An application must be submitted with a non-refundable $30 fee to the PIAA.

South Dakota
To become an official, you'll need to contact the SDHSAA fill out an application. Once the application and registration fees are received by the SDHSAA, applicants will receive their rule books) and open book test. In addition, applicants must attend an annual rules meeting and a local association meeting, complete and pass the open book test and attend an officials jamboree (if sport requires a jamboree).


    The first step in becoming a high school official in Utah is to register with the UHSAA at register. Click the officials link at the top of the page. Download the form, print a copy, complete the information and send it to the UHSAA with the proper registration fee(s).
  1. A packet will be sent prior to the start of the sports season. Packets include sport specific rule books, a 100-question rules test (Part 1 Test) and UHSAA rules clinic information. The Part 1 Test is open book and requires a a minimum score of 80% to pass. If a failing grade occurs, a retake is allowed.
  2. The next step is to contact a local officials association from the . local association leadership.
  3. A Part 2 Test will be offered at a scheduled association meeting. This test is mandatory for post-season varsity officials; however, the test is available and encouraged for all officials. The test is open book and requires an 85% accuracy to pass. No retakes are allowed for the Part 2 Test.
West Virginia
New officials shall register with the WVSSAC office immediately upon enrolling in one of the following training options:
  1. College Course (taught by a WVSSAC Registered Official)
  2. Adult Education Program
  3. In-Board Training Program
  4. Combination of any of these Programs
  5. Upon completion of the training class, the local secretary will submit Form 0-8 to the WVSSAC office to verify that the first year official has completed the training class and joined the local board.

    New officials who are registering for the first time in any sport must submit, with their registration, the completed Physical Education Form before actively officiating. The registration deadline is June 18. For more information contact Roberta Newton 304.485.5494.