INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dan Gavitt would like to college basketball referees to take more time to make the right calls, especially with a national championship at stake.
Less than 48 hours after a crucial call helped Duke hold on for a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin on Monday night in the title game, the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball told The Associated Press that the referees could have been “more patient” at the replay monitor.
A magnified shot that aired during CBS’ live telecast appeared to show a Duke player touched the ball last when Badgers guard Bronson Koenig missed a layup with 1:54 to play and Duke leading 63-58. But Gavitt said the officials never got a chance to see that replay because they had already decided to uphold the original decision that the ball went off Wisconsin.
“All I’m saying is that I think there’s a chance that if there had been a longer review, especially on the blown up one, the magnified version, there’s a chance there would have been enough evidence to overturn the call,” Gavitt said Wednesday. “But it’s still a judgment call.”
Gavitt said he spoke with Badgers coach Bo Ryan immediately after the game and again Wednesday to give him a heads-up about what he planned to say publicly about the call. Gavitt did not characterize the conversation as an apology, and said Ryan was more upset about how the game was called — rather than the one call that has been talked about all week.
What went wrong?
John Adams, the retiring head of college basketball referees, told SiriusXMCollege Radio on Tuesday that the three-man officiating crew and the standby official did not have access to the same views as the television audience. So when Adams realized the call looked wrong, he considered making a dash to the scorer’s table to bring the officials back.
Gavitt said Adams “misspoke” and that the referees did have access to all TV replays.
Adams declined an interview request.
Kim Jackson, a spokesman for DVSport, the NCAA’s replay partner through 2019, acknowledged the referees did get access to all of CBS’ replays, just not in time to make the most definitive angle available.
“At that point, they had already looked at eight or nine different angles and didn’t see that (magnified) one in time to alert them in time to come back to the table,” Jackson said, explaining how the scorer’s table was in contact with the television truck. “Typically, what is done if they want to bring them back is they just blow the horn and have them come back over.”
Instead, nothing was done and the game continued as Duke went on to win its fifth national title, beating the Badgers 68-63.
And though it wasn’t only the questionable call during the three-week NCAA Tournament, it could have the most lasting impact.
Jackson said DVSport and the NCAA have already had conversations about how to improve the process and what could be done if a definitive angle comes in late, but they have not yet come up with concrete solutions.
One potential problem is the disparate amount of cameras.
While the title game had 18 different angles, Gavitt said most regular-season games only have to four to seven — meaning there’s an even greater possibility of mistakes. Tony Dungy often cited that as a reason to vote against replay use when he was coaching in the NFL.
Just hours before Monday’s game, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany suggested it may be time to consider taking away replay decisions from the officials on the court. The NFL, NBA and NHL both central command centers to make decisions and in college football, a booth official can overturn calls on the field.
Another concern is that many fans have already complained about how long it takes to play the finals minutes of college games.
But Gavitt is convinced that getting it right is more important than getting games finished fast.
“We have to find the right balance. I think with the number of camera angles, we should take a little longer,” he said. “I don’t think the goal should be to be perfect because I think you’re always going to have human nature and human judgment be a part of that. But we’d like to get it right as much as we can.”
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.