|Burke's pink uniforms. Columbus' visiting jerseys were red.|
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.