Judy Kay-Wolff

An Analogy between the NCAA and the ACBL!

According to the March 21, 2011 issue of SPORT ILLUSTRATED, appearing on page 20

“Amid criticism for failing to properly officiate the final seconds of a Big East tournament second-round game on March 9, three basketball  referees, whose decision to sit out the remainder of the tournament was described by Big East commissioner John Marinatto as “in the best interest of everyone involved.”  The officials,—Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton – withdrew a day after officiating St. John’s 65-63 win over Rutgers.   In the closing seconds of that game, Red Storm forward Justin Brownlee grabbed a loose ball on a tipped inbounds pass.   But while celebrating the apparent victory, Brownlee appeared to travel, then stepped out-of-bounds with 1.7 seconds remaining.   Neither violation was called, robbing Rutgers of a deserved last possession.   The ending ignited a storm of controversy, including criticism from NCAA National coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, John Adams, who told ESPN, ‘not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable.’  Marinatto acknowledged that Rutgers should have received an extra possession.”

Here is the classic example of the top brass of the NCAA rising to the occasion and publicly recognizing that three of their employees (referees) had committed a serious faux pas and their erroneous judgment was reflected in their agreeing that these three men not officiate for the remainder of this year’s most prestigious Big East Conference Tournament.

Why cannot the ACBL follow suit with their officials (directors) when they have clearly erred (as in the October 22nd Las Vegas Tournament incident) where the DIRECTORS COMMITTEE THEMSELVES heard the appeal and took it upon themselves to rule CASE CLOSED without the courtesy of hearing the side of the victims – but rather rely on hearsay of the directors themselves who were rushing out to dinner because one had to catch a plane.   They should  hang their heads in ignominy for taking such a  close-minded,  biased view of a disgracefully handled situation involving their own flock whom they must believe can do no wrong!!!!!!!!!!!

Hat’s off to the NCAA!   Shame on the ACBL!


MicheleMarch 18th, 2011 at 10:28 am

My husband and I have always loved Sports Illustrated as they are very candid as far as reporting and don’t pull any punches. I actually watched that game and was horrified at the laissez faire attitude of the officials. Glad to see it in print.

JoanieMarch 18th, 2011 at 11:31 am

I salute the NCAA as well.

Some organizations just want to keep their noses clean, look the other way and let the chips fall where they may. To me, that is a depraved group who are a negative influence on, in the subject case, the game of bridge itself. I suppose their attitude is they have nothing to gain by getting involved as long as they are not called to task.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 18th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Bridge never used to be this way. The entire composition of the organization was different. The BOD contained some top experts who were quite knowledgeable about the rules and laws and made themselves heard .. people like Edgar Kaplan, Tommy Sanders, Eric Murray, etc. They have no peers today and the few who are even somewhat qualified are outnumbered and do not speak up as it is a losing battle. I know it sounds like sour grapes but I remember when people fought for what was good for bridge. Today, they are more absorbed in their own self-interests .. like Bobby referred to them in TLW .. the good ‘ole boys club.

Newcomers have no idea of what I am talking about, but the oldtimers remember different challenges and solutions where what was best for bridge was everyone’s main concern .. long before the days of perks, personal agendas, politics, big money pro dates, professionalism, etc.

Unless people in elected or selected posts take an active interest in playing by the rules, assemble fair and unbiased committees that don’t involve friedships or loyalties, it will just go from bad to worse. No one assumes responsibility for any wrongdoing.

Legitimate complaints just fall on deaf ears — like an anarchy — with no accountability.

PaulMarch 19th, 2011 at 3:18 am

I really don’t think the cases are comparable.

Officiating high-level sport is very difficult, especially sports that are played at high-speed. It is inevitable that officials will make errors. Given that they are paid a pittance compared to the players, why should their standard be at the high-level that the players aspire to? You pay peanuts, you get monkeys! Of course the players are all totally error-free and never miss a shot!

[I don’t whether instant replay is available to the officials in an NCAA game, but if not they you just have to live with it]

Of course it is right that the organisers take action over poor performance.

The big difference in bridge is time, or at least it should be. Decisions are not required before the adverts start. The pressure on the officials is different. They can take their time for consideration.

All of this means that I feel the performance of the directorial staff and ACBL is very poor.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 19th, 2011 at 5:30 am


I don’t think money is the issue for expertise. If one aspires to be an NCAA official, he must rise to the occasion and be the best there is. It was an egregious call and could have been corrected, but the officials chose to let it fall by the wayside and let the time run out.

You say, “Of course it is right that the organisers take action over poor performance” The ACBL turns their head the other way to protect their flock which can do no wrong. It is time they fessed up to mismanagement of their own. It is going from bad to worse. And, the lethargy has filtered down to the club level where judgment is involved, but many of those who can read the rules and laws are not equipped to make judgmental rulings. Better guidelines should be provided. The staffs must be better educated — and that is the responsibility of the ACBL. They can’t learn on their own — try as they may. They need help and it is the parent organization’s duty to provide that information.