January 21, 2015 at 7:25 pm #17788
I had an interesting discussion with a guy I know who is a referee in various basketball games in my area. He played Division I basketball years ago, has run a ton of youth teams and leagues over the years and is now in his 40’s. His kids now play high school ball. About 10-15 years ago, he started officiating. He has gone from youth travel games, to AAU games, to high school games, and now is doing college games, along with all of the others. It is not his full-time job, but he is officiating at probably 10-15 games a week in season. That is usually 4-5 high school games, youth travel games in bunches on the weekends, and some college games here or there, which, of course, get his priority, although travel is tough. He has not done any Division I games yet, but hopes to be doing them next season, and he stated a number of smaller conferences where he could potentially work. So, we were discussing pay for these games. I was very surprised at the numbers. For a frame of reference, youth games pay $40 per game, 2 officials. The high school games in NJ pay $78 per game to work a 3 man crew, and presumably more for a 2 man crew, although most are 3. The Division III and Division II games can vary, but average $500 per game. The travel can be bad, and he was getting ready over the weekend to drive about 3.5 hours into Central PA to do a college game for $575 (I think it was Juniata). He told me the going rate for Division I games in smaller conferences is about $1000 per game, which shocked me. When you step up the college ranks, the pay gets bigger and bigger. The top currently, according to him, is the SEC, which is paying $3500 per game. He said those guys work about 50 games a season. Not a bad part-time gig for $175,000. The bigger conferences are paying travel costs and per diems as well.
After we talked at the end of our youth travel game where he pocketed $40, he started to ref an older youth travel game (again for $40). I stuck around to watch as the game featured 2 of the best 8th grade teams around, where many kids will be really good high school players in a couple years. It was a really physical tight game, with a good crowd and obnoxious parents on both sides. By halftime, when I left, he had thrown out 4 parents from one team, and 1 from the other. Tough work for $40. But, it’s a long road I guess to the top of the college ranks.January 21, 2015 at 8:21 pm #17789
Interesting story, 90. And, I might add that from time to time you’ll even spot a noted NFL ref doing college basketball. I give you Gene Steratore who, to his credit, has officiated 647 college basketball games over the past 16 years – including 12 in the Patriot League.January 23, 2015 at 4:01 am #17810
Yes, it is a tough road to become an official in a major collegiate sport. I thought about doing football and wrestling over 35 years ago and got the forms from the PIAA. Besides my 50-60 hour a week job, having to start out with Junior High and community games in the afternoons was problematic. And then the kids arrive. The time taken away from the family is substantial and I could not justify it to anyone. I tore up the forms. Great job for a bachelor.
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