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Henry Nichols, chairman of the education and human services department at Villanova, who in his spare time was the best referee in all of college basketball, is not working any ACC, Big East, SEC, Metro, Sun Belt or NCAA tournament games this season.
No, he's not protesting Bylaw 5-1-(j) or the inclusion of Keith ("Fumbllllle...Huskers!") Jackson on the new ABC-TV basketball crew. Nichols has become the national coordinator for a special NCAA committee on the improvement of officiating. For the next two years he and NCAA rules editor Ed Steitz will conduct mandatory seminars for all Division I officials, coaches and conference supervisors. Nichols, a 16-year NCAA veteran who has worked more national championship games—including 6 of the last 12—and appeared in more Final Fours than any other ref, says his committee "will help achieve consistency in officiating, one of our top priorities."
Great idea? Got to be applauded by all concerned? Coaches will get in line to support the effort, right? Guess again. Kansas's Larry Brown, who spent most of the off-season griping that Danny Manning was jobbed in his pitiful NCAA semifinal showing against Duke last March, says that an instructional film Nichols shows at his seminars is "confusing" and was "edited wrong." Brown contends that an offending segment shows Kansas's Greg Dreiling fouling a Blue Devil player when it was really the Duke guy who fouled Dreiling. O.K., what does Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs think about the new committee? "I am not sure we need that," he says. "I don't think it is necessary at all. I don't think it will help a damn bit."
BACK TO YOU, ED
So what will? Fred Barakat, the supervisor of ACC officials, said that his referees' halftime decision to change a basket by Wake Forest's Muggsy Bogues from three points to two (SI, Jan. 12) was "the right decision."
"Wrong," says Dr. Steitz, the guy who hammered the three-pointer into law. Citing Rule 2, section 10-e (Correctable Errors), Steitz said the point should not have been removed because correctable errors must be changed before the second resumption of play after the error was made.
By your leave (or words to that effect), said Barakat. "A correctable error always occurs with the clock stopped. This [Bogues's shot] happened with the clock running. I don't agree with the interpretation, and I'm upset and sick over the fact that now we're being told that we're wrong."
Not necessarily wrong. Everybody's just totally, inexorably, unforgivably confused. Hey, Mr. Nichols, looks like coordinating starts in the home office.
BUT CAN THEY ARBITRAGE?