“You know going into this business,” said Ed Hightower, a retired college basketball referee who was the prime subject of Bob Katz’s 2015 book, “The Whistleblower.” “And you know as you evolve into the face of college basketball — because you’ve earned
that right to work those huge games, as John Higgins has — you know going in that what you have to do in your mind is not allow that criticism to impact you.”
He added, “At the end of the day, it’s more important to be fair
and honest and have integrity than to be worried about what someone is going to say about you.”
Trends in the game and in its presentation to the public have conspired to increase scrutiny on referees, however.
Yet there was Higgins on Saturday as the crew chief in a Final Four game — the eighth Final Four for the veteran official,
who was profiled in Sports Illustrated last year as one of the most respected referees in the college game.
A Referee Marches On (Much to Kentucky Fans’ Chagrin) -
By MARC TRACYAPRIL 3, 2017
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The most unlikely participant in Saturday night’s national men’s basketball semifinal between South Carolina
and Gonzaga was neither the seventh-seeded Gamecocks, who had lost the opening round of their conference tournament, nor the Bulldogs, who were playing in their first Final Four in program history.
Collins said that during one season he worked as a referee, Gene Keady, the former longtime Purdue coach, was 2-9 in games Collins had officiated.
is hoping to increase, reducing the number of games each must officiate — college referees are independent contractors with a financial interest in maximizing
the number of games they work, arguably to the detriment of their on-court performances or their focus on nonbasketball businesses, or both.