Thursday, February 9, 2012

NSAA (Nebraska): Girls' Basketball Team Earns Technical Foul for Wearing Pink Uniforms for Charity

Earlier this week, Burke High School (Nebraska) hosted a late-season basketball game against the visiting Columbus Discoverers. In lieu of their home white uniforms, the Burke Bulldogs donned pink jerseys in a charitable effort: Assistant coach Tom Law purchased the pink uniforms specifically for that game. The jerseys were to be auctioned off afterward, with proceeds benefitting the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Burke's pink uniforms. Columbus' visiting jerseys were red.
Burke Athletic Director Kyle Rohrig signed off on the idea and all seemed fine until halftime, when the Bulldogs took a one point lead into the locker room.

That's when Columbus head coach Dave Licari spoke with the officials and asked if the pink uniforms were legal. If not, a penalty should have been assessed. Licardi had reportedly been tipped off by Columbus AD John Krogstrand.

Columbus' own away uniforms are red, though the hue of pink used on Burke's uniforms still provided a decent contrast between the two colors.

The officials accordingly issued a technical foul against the Bulldogs for the uniform infraction and a Columbus player made both free throws. NFHS Rule 3-4 mandates all home jerseys be white, while Rule 10-5-4 specifies a technical foul is to be issued directly to a head coach who allows his players to participate while wearing illegal uniforms. Only one technical foul is charged regardless of the number of the offenders, while there is no statute of limitations for this penalty: the infraction is penalized when discovered at any point during the contest.

By rule, this call was correct. Burke's special jerseys were in violation of NFHS Rules, the penalty for which is one direct technical foul charged to the offending team's head coach.

Officials recognized the charitable spirit with which the uniforms were worn and withheld the penalty until the opposing team complained at the half, upon which the officials were forced to penalize Burke for a clear rules violation. Put bluntly, this is one of the more technical T's a team can receive.

By propriety and with great fairness, the officials handled this situation correctly. By strict interpretation of the rules, they did not.

Had Licari not protested at halftime and Burke held a one point lead at the end of the fourth quarter, what would the officials have done if Licari chose that opportunity to question the pink jerseys?

Surely, a technical foul must be called in that situation (again, no statute of limitations until all officials have left the visual confines of the playing area). A referee cannot ignore the rules when a coach or participant asks when such a clear infraction be penalized.

Had Columbus then made both free throws, Burke would have lost—in a roundabout way—due to charity.

As it turns out, Columbus pulled away to a 62-47 victory, rendering the technical a moot point.

Still, basketball rules bestow officials the authority to penalize infractions when discovered. There are no appeal plays, such as batting out of order in baseball.

Referees, umpires, judges and the like are enjoined by their states, conferences or leagues to master the rules of the game and to exercise authority in an impartial, firm and controlled manner.

Though not entirely correct by strict interpretation of the rules, the officials made the best of their situation at Burke and avoided calling the "cheap" technical until Columbus forced their hand.

By then, there was no choice but to penalize the infraction of the rules.



Anonymous said...

The Columbus Discoverers coach should be penalized by the community for being a rectum-head.

GrayFox said...

If I were the referee and the game had just ended in a 1-point victory for pink, before any technical had been imposed, I would have sprinted off the playing court before any coach from the other team gets the idea to protest the jerseys. That way my jurisdiction ends and I would not have been able to assess any cheap technical foul!

Anonymous said...

As a conference supervisor and former official, this could have all been avoided with proper notification of a "zone pink" designated game by the home school. As supervisor, when I receive notification from a school of their intention to host a "zone pink" game, I notify the officials, secure clearance with the State Association and notify the visiting school. I have never had an objection from the visiting school and have never encountered a problem.

Anonymous said...

As a student who goes to Columbus high I say that the whole would of been avoided if the dumbass Burke coach would've told us they were not wearing white uniforms. Btw I was at the game.. We did not ask for a technical.. We asked if what they were wearing was legal. The refs decided to give the technical

Anonymous said...

The whole incident would have been avoided had Burke included Columbus in their plans. More funds would have been raised for Make A Wish Nebraska if the event had been shared with the team and people in Columbus. It was a good idea that was not properly shared or advertised.

Adam said...

As an official, I've had several games like this. Each time I have a game and know that something like this is planned I call the host school and make sure they have gotten proper clearance with the state association. Is that my job? Probably not but I consider it preventive officiating. Nobody wins in these situations, the officials and opposing team look like jerks for enforcing the rules and the host school administrators look incompetent.

Anonymous said...

As the coach on the opposite team I would have known full well that they were illegal and would assume they had clearance. "Even if they did not have clearance", I would know the colors were for some type of cause, be it a "charity" or "breast cancer". I would not have even asked the officials about the uniforms, knowing that if I brought the matter to their attention, they would now have to make a ruling. Only a true lowlife of a coach would have asked about this in the first place. Hope he was happy with the outcome. He knew exactly what he was doing and was hoping to get the cheap technical foul and he got it. This made him happy and showed what a great coach he is for his players and school, and showed his superior knowledge of the rules to speak up about this injustice. Hopefully, his attention to detail in stopping this atrocity from being ignored and penalized, and bringing it to the attention of the proper authorities in front of his players, fans, and superiors, propels him to highest reaches of the coaching profession. Remember, it is a dog eat dog, win at all costs, take no prisoners in the athletic world for a HS coach. By all means, he should go on to be the greatest coach in history and he should remember that this defining moment propelled him forward to achieving greatness.

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