Is SEC Officiating a Problem for Conference and Teams

Greg Arias

Officiating across the Southeastern Conference is a growing problem in multiple sports, but perhaps none more so than men's basketball. 

Before anyone calls me a homer for writing this in the wake of Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse's ejection at Florida on Saturday, this has been ongoing for some time, the missed call on Matthew Moyer's injury was just the latest incident in which officiating has shown in a negative manner.  

Let's be clear, Stackhouse should have been ejected, that's not the issue. In fact had he not have forced the ejection defending his player, that would have been a problem of another kind. 

The problem was that he had to defend his injured player because the three officials, Tony Greene, R.B. Clyburn, and Wesley Ford failed to do it in the first place.  

Yes, I know officials have a tough job running up and down the fields and courts of the SEC with world-class athletes, and mistakes will be made on split-second judgment calls, but when officials have the ability to go to instant replay and make right a wrong and fail to do so-  even after the went to the monitors- that's a real problem for the league and for teams.  

Make no mistake, this is not the only incident this season, just the most recent where fans are left to complain while league coaches stew in silence and the conference continues to rake in the cash while failing to do anything to improve the product they are tasked with administrating on the fields and courts because of bad officiating. 

I'm not going to tell you that I have all the answers, I'm not that smart, but I can tell you that the current system is a poor one. 

It's nothing personal against any single one official, and some are very good, but as my dear ole granny said so eloquently, the bad apples spoil the basket, or in this case the conference. 

I reached out to the conference office to speak with Mark Whitehead, coordinator of officials for men's basketball, who does not have an office in the conference's headquarters in Birmingham and received an email response saying "Mark Mark does not participate in mid-season evaluation interviews about officiating."

As Stackhouse said during his Monday afternoon press conference- available in the video above- I'm not pinning this Vanderbilt loss, or any loss by any team this season on officiating, but that does not mean that because it has not directly cost a team a game doesn't mean it still doesn't need to be addressed and improved.   

Whatever the solution might be, the players, coaches, schools, and fans deserve better, and it's time the conference announced a plan to provide it.