December 23, 2005

Officials want their share of bowl bonanza

View the official NCAA report here or get it off of our website here.
Some bowl game executives are miffed at an NCAA report found by in which bowl game officials complain about everything from the location of complimentary tickets to the size of their courtesy cars.

In the report, located on during a routine Google search and dated June 2005, referees complain to the NCAA and the bowls about low pay and perceived poor treatment.

The report lists the officials as making the following "administrative" recommendations:

Receive same gifts as players and coaches.
Improve hotel accommodations.
Minimum four-day stay.
Provide air travel for spouses.
Provide larger vehicles for officials.
Increase game fees.
Increase per diem.
Provide "prime" access to complimentary tickets.

The issues asking for families to travel and wining and dining them is not, nor should it be, the focus of the bowl game.
Steve Ehrhart, executive director of the Liberty Bowl
Bowl officials spoke with could not recall seeing any results of a poll by game officials.

"I don't know that we've seen it," Outback Bowl spokesman Mike Schulze said. "But the NCAA surveys everybody. I'm not surprised they surveyed the officials about us."

Schulze did say he was caught off guard by the Outback portion of the report, which read that "hotel accommodations were poor" and that "spouses should attend the team luncheon."

Some of the referees' recommendations seemed a little more reasonable, such as police escorts to and from the game and that they not be housed with team parties or fans.

"The issues asking for families to travel and wining and dining them is not, nor should it be, the focus of the bowl game," said Steve Ehrhart, executive director of the Liberty Bowl.

Schulze said many of the officials' gripes were beyond the control of the bowls and were issues the referees would have to take up with the NCAA. There is a postseason handbook put out by the NCAA that mandates the pay and treatment of officials.

According to the NCAA postseason handbook, the game fee for referees in BCS bowls is $1,400. The Southeastern Conference crew that officiated last year's Orange Bowl made the following recommendation: "It has been the NCAA's approach to underestimate the importance of officiating, and accordingly vastly underpay the officials. The BCS teams receive $13.5 million each and the NCAA doesn't spend but $25,000 or less on the officials. The BCS pay should be a minimum of $3,000 per official per game."

The NCAA postseason handbook also puts a limit on gifts for refs at $350. Bowl games are allowed to spend up to $500 per player. The fact refs recommend receiving the same gifts as players is beyond the control of the bowls.

Schulze said there had been some discussion at Football Bowl Association meetings about making gifts to refs the same across the board. That way the bowls could avoid the kind of complaints they apparently were unaware had surfaced in this report.

Derrick Fox, executive director of the Alamo Bowl and president of the Football Bowl Association, also was blindsided by the report.

"We've never gotten any reports here," Fox said. "Those go to the NCAA; they've not been shared with us. If we've been written up, we've not been told.

"I guess maybe the NCAA needs to give us forms to give feedback about the officials. Quid pro quo."

To a man bowl executive directors spoke with said they believed they treated refs well and felt the refs had done a good job calling their games.

Ehrhart said his hope was that bowl games would be just another game for refs. They show up, they do a job, they get paid.

"Conferences need to do a better job to communicate (to officials) that this isn't a vacation," Ehrhart said.

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