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Author Topic: Mark Whitehead embraces new role as officiating supervisor in the SEC  (Read 120 times)

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Mark Whitehead embraces new basketball role as officiating supervisor in the SEC

“I’m still going to watch a lot of games, but through a difference lens,” Whitehead said in a recent one-on-one interview. “It’s going to be a lot different than what I’ve done for the last 29 years. I’m going to be watching 50-60 games in person and a whole lot more on TV and video, but what I’ll be monitoring now is what those three guys calling the game are doing.”

Those three guys are the three officials calling each game who will be Whitehouse’s pupils, and in a sense, his employees.

In this new spot – which has since been expanded to include a job as the coordinator of officials in the American Athletic Association and Atlantic Sun Conference – Whitehead will evaluate referees on a game-by-game basis. The process began this summer when he spent extensive time in Orlando observing a young crop of hopeful referees as they looked to gain a foothold on the career ladder.

All of this is still very new to Whitehead, who for most of the last three decades has been regarded as one of the best officials in the college game. The 2016 Final 4 was his fifth, an assignment that is earned by merit throughout the season.

“One thing about Mark is that he has come up the right way – the hard way – and has paid his dues,” said Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, who spent several years at Southeastern Louisiana, where both he and Whitehead graduated from in the early 1980s. “It’s good to have guy who is respected and who knows games of officiating as well as he does be in a spot like this.”

Added Whitehead, “This will definitely be something different for me. I never had planned to seek a job like this. I thought I’d still be calling games for 4-8 good years and then retiring. By all of this happening in such a short period of time, there hasn’t been an adjustment period. But I’m happy I took the job and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve talked to every coach to find out what their thought process is and how they think the game needs to get better – what they think officiating needs to do to make it better in our league,” Whitehead said. “The biggest issues are communication and mistakes in last 4 minutes of games. What officials need to be able to do is look these guys in the eye and talk to them. Tell them ‘I missed a call.’ Be honest because that’s what they want.

“In this job, there’s no question that I’m rooting for the officials. Those are the guys I am pulling for to do well. But I also want to do whatever I can to help the SEC get back to where it was as one of the best league in the country, and making sure we have the best officials in the country is a big part of that.”

And that task is on Whitehead’s plate starting in November.

The process isn’t as simple as it might sound.

Every SEC game includes an on-site evaluator who grades the officials. Now the game is also recorded, loaded on an iPad for the supervisor, as well as another person who evaluates games off-site.

Once all the evaluations are combined, each official is given his ‘grade,’ which may include plaudits and information on what he needs to improve.
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