Mountain West, Pac-12 enter officiating collaboration, plus Utah State news
Any fan who has watched 10 minutes of a college basketball has probably thought officiating can be improved. Apparently so do the commissioners of the Pac-12 and the Mountain West.
On Friday, the two conferences announced a "collaboration" to manage their men's basketball officials, a deal they hope can help ease coordinating schedules and improve the quality of officiating.
One of the factors that helped form the partnership was that both conferences felt it was detrimental to have their officials work in different parts of the country. Between crammed schedules and airline flights, administrators in both the Pac-12 and the Mountain West were concerned about keep their officials "fresh."
In each other, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said, they saw a solution.
"Rather than send our officials east of Denver, we would rather see them stay west of Denver," Thompson said in a Friday conference call. "It's in our mutual interest, and we feel it will improve the overall quality of officiating in our league."
The conferences will share a coordinator - Bobby Dibler - to manage the pool of officials. The Pac-12 and MWC will share training programs and collaborate in other ways with the West Coast Conference, the Big West and the Western Athletic conference in an effort to standardize and stabilize officiating west of the Rockies.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the arrangement will help his conference officials work more without having to travel further. Thompson said the Mountain West may look into evaluating officials in the way the Pac-12 does.
Other details were not readily available, including the number of officials in the pool and how the assignments would be split up between them.
Thompson and Scott also would not comment on whether the move indicated any future collaborations or scheduling between the conferences. Some basketball observers have openly wondered whether the two conferences will one day compete in a basketball "challenge" similar to the annual duals between ACC and Big Ten programs.
Scott did, however, open up on how the Ed Rush scandal helped change a bit of his perspective on his conference's handle on officiating. After Rush, then the Pac-12 head of officials, resigned following a highly publicized incident in which he made comments to other officials about Arizona coach Sean Miller, Scott said he tried to see ways in which he could improve his system.
"We tried to take a step back, we had an independent investigation, we really dove in deep," Scott said.
Other Aggie activities on a busy Friday:
• Utah State announced a $1.3 million gift by Blake Kirby, chairman of Inovar, Inc., for the court in the forthcoming Wayne Estes Center. The competition volleyball court and practice basketball facility will be named after Kirby, who also donated an additional $200,000 to the school's Merlin Olsen football fund. Kirby is another one of the deep-pocketed alums who has helped the school of late, one of the reasons why the Aggies will be able to pay for the Estes Center completely with private donations.
• The Aggies finally officially signed Tennessee transfer Daniel Gray - a move that had been reported in mid May. A high school teammate of Utah State receivers Travis Reynolds and Jojo Natson, Gray recorded six tackles last year with the volunteers. A school press release cites that Gray was among the fastest (4.32 second 40) and top-rated cornerbacks in the country (105th by ESPN) at the time of his recruitment. He'll sit out this season and have three years of eligibility afterward, which should help build Utah State's secondary depth.
• Check out this Scout.com report on Bountiful wing Zac Seljaas, a 6-foot-7 talent from the class of 2015 who has interest from all in-state schools. He's a teammate of Utah State commit Sam Merrill.
- Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon