SE: A Look at Big 12 Officiating

Dec. 16, 2011

By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra

Those men in the black and white stripes you cheered and jeered during the last three-plus months at Bill Snyder Family Stadium … well, they’re just like you. They’re everything from a butcher, to a baker, to a candlestick maker.

In the Big 12 Conference, Supervisor Walt Anderson says there were seven nine-man crews, plus two substitutes.

Many of those were returnees from the previous years, but like in basketball, the Big 12 also has an association with the Mountain West and Southland Conferences that Anderson says, “… serve as a baseball farm team. Each year a couple guys are developed in those conferences and brought up to work games for us.”

Once in the Big 12, officials are under constant watch with each and every play.

“We have individuals observing every game, plus evaluations will be made from videos from the games,” said Anderson. “We do get feedback from the coaches, and that is built into our evaluation.”

From those evaluations, the officials are put into a three-tier pay scale.

“It’s not what you did two or three years ago, but you are evaluated on what you did last year,” said Anderson, a dentist by profession and graduate of Sam Houston State. “Officials are held accountable for their performance and not paid because of longevity.”

Not necessarily on a one-third basis, but officials grading the highest get $2,500 per game, those in the second tier get checks for $2,200, and those new to the league, or graded low the previous year, receive $1,900 per game. The game referee gets an additional $200 per game for weekly duties, and all are compensated for all of their travel expenses.

Anderson said that the Big 12 has several definite rules on assigning games:
Officials cannot work a conference game of their alma mater, but are allowed to officiate non-league games where their alma mater is involved.

Officials cannot work a game where they have family members employed.

An attempt is made to have one crew work no more than two games of a particular school with an effort made for one of those games being at home, and the other on the road.

If a crew does get three games with one team, every attempt is made to have one in the preseason, one in the middle of the year, and one late in the year.

There is no age limit for Big 12 officials.

While organizing the 65 Big 12 officials, Anderson has a Sunday job of his own in the National Football League. A 16-year veteran of NFL officiating, Anderson has worked a pair of Super Bowls, which includes last year’s.

In comparing the two football arenas, Anderson said, “They really are different. If you dropped someone down from Mars 30 seconds after an NFL game, he couldn’t tell who won or lost. In the college game, that person would know in a moment who won or lost.

“In the NFL, a guy can blow a play at the end of the game, but moments later he is high-fiving members of the other team,” said Anderson. “In college, that poor kid that gave up the big play is going to be distraught for weeks. There really is a significant difference.”

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