The error occurred in the second quarter of Saturday’s game when Washington State attempted a fourth down pass to wide receiver Gabe Marks, whose forward progress appeared to have been stopped short of a first down as a whistle blew the play dead. However, the Cougars got a second chance after the referees ruled there was an inadvertent whistle.
According to official NCAA rules, if an inadvertent whistle occurs when the ball is in player possession, then the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where declared dead or repeat the down.
“The Pac-12 has reviewed the play and has determined it should have been stopped at the point when the whistle blew as forward progress was stopped short of the first down,” the conference said in a statement. “The ball should have been turned over to Arizona State on downs. As a result, the officiating crew erred in ruling this an inadvertent whistle and not officiating the initial whistle as the end of the play.”
The conference has downgraded the entire officiating crew and suspended the line judge for the next game.