Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rick Boyages, Big Ten associate commissioner, on officiating and evaluations

Big Ten associate commissioner Rick Boyages, also in charge of officiating for men's basketball, discusses what he looks for in referees at October's Big Ten media day. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

It is assumed the life of a basketball official, though rewarding, can be a thankless one more often than not. Ditto for that of a supervisor.

The missed foul down low or permitted hand checking will have to be addressed initially by the supervisor. If you are on the whistle and your phone does not ring on a given night, chances are there were either no games on the schedule, or your crew was near-perfect. A supervisor not only works with their present staff to assist in making them the best they can be, but also conducts a never-ending search for new talent to bring on board and further solidify the staff in place.

Rick Boyages, one of the Big Ten Conference’s associate commissioners, has been in charge of Big Ten basketball officiating since 2010 as one of his many duties while working with commissioner Jim Delany. Boyages is not a former official. Rather, he spent 19 years in the coaching end of the college game. During those nearly two decades on the sidelines, four were spent at Ohio State in two separate stints on staff with former Buckeyes head coach Jim O’Brien. Boyages is well aware of the nightly intensity and demands presented to coaches and officials in the Big Ten, and his experience on the coaching end brings a perspective from that side which is vital in establishing and maintaining a strong official program, something that contributes to the excellence of the conference from a basketball standpoint.

I had the chance to speak with Boyages at last month’s Big Ten media day in New York, about officiating and what makes a good referee great.  

Boyages on what qualities he looks for in prospective officials:
“A good foundation with regards to mechanics and signals, position and coverage on the court. I want even a new official to show the ability to handle tough situations, especially with coaches. A lot of officials can be a U1 (umpire) or a U2. What we want is the guy who can step in on the given night and prove to be an effective lead official. Having a presence is so important in that regard.”

On how game evaluations are accomplished:
“We do live observations and video tape each game as well. We have someone in the league office edit and compile certain plays. They may have to do with traveling or offensive fouls, but we send out about 14-24 plays each week to all our officials. In some of these plays, the crew may have gotten the call right, in others they didn’t. But it is important that all our officials get to see these plays on a weekly basis.”

On the importance of people skills in officiating:
“In college, they are absolutely invaluable. Those officials who have great people skills have been able to extend their careers a few years (Tim Higgins was one mentioned and agreed on) simply because they can defuse volatile situations. We want our officials to communicate with coaches, no doubt. We also need them to defuse those situations mentioned, which often come up in the heat of conference play. Communication just comes up as such an important part of an official’s people skills.”

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