Basketball officials were not on court when fights started after 2 CT high school games. Here's why

A basketball lies on the dusty hardwood court of a college hoops arena during a break in the action.

A basketball lies on the dusty hardwood court of a college hoops arena during a break in the action.

Tar_Heel_Rob / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Fights occurred at two high school basketball games this week in Connecticut, both starting in the handshake line after the conclusion of the games, and after officials had left the court.

Commissioners for three of the state's largest boards of officials each said once the game is over, officials leave the court immediately.  Anything that occurs after that is not the officials’ responsibility.

“Their official jurisdiction is over once the game ends and everything is clear with (the scorebook and scorer’s table),” said Pete Carroll, commissioner for IAABO Board 9, which oversees Fairfield County.

“As the game ends, they check the score and they are gone. They leave," said Buddy Chernovetz, commissioner for Board 10, which overseas Greater New Haven.

The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Basketball Rules Book clearly defines “The jurisdiction of the officials is terminated and the final score has been approved when all officials leave the visual confines of the playing area.” under Rule 2, Section 2, Article 4.  “The officials’ jurisdiction prior to the game begins when they arrive on the floor,” according to Rule 2, Section 2, Article 2.

Ed Lynch, the commissioner for IAABO Board 6, which services approximately 80 schools, including the Greater Hartford area, said his two varsity officials were already in the locker room when a fight began after the Weaver at Middletown boys basketball game Tuesday night.

“They were met by the AD (Elisha DeJesus) in the hallway and she asked if they wanted an escort to their cars,” Lynch said. “They didn’t know what went on, had no idea. The head official said, ‘Yes, thank you very much’ and they took that walk to the car with the security.”

Lynch, who has been an official for 46 years, the last 17 as the commissioner, said officials are expected to call him after the game if anything unusual happens, either during the pregame, if there are any ejections or, in this case, a post-game fight.

Chernovetz said officials from Board 10 meet five times a season to go over issues, even offering training if need be. Board 10 services Wilbur Cross, which was involved in a fight with Bassick following a game at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven Monday.

“We try and make sure problems like what happened Monday night, don’t happen,” Chernovetz said. “Officials try to recognize there could be a problem and try to prevent it. Technical fouls are a part of that or talking to the kids during the game or recognizing the game is very physical and (call) more fouls to try and control the game. That is their job.”

Six technical fouls were assessed in Monday's game between Bassick and Wilbur Cross.

Said Carroll: “You have to keep an eye out as the game intensifies. You have to really pay attention. One rule, one interpretation, everyone on the same page.”

Basssick falls under the jurisdiction of the Fairfield County board. Carroll said he spoke with Bassick principal Dr. Joseph Raiola and Pat O’Rourke, the school’s athletic director, on Wednesday about several things, including returning to a three-man officiating crew.

Currently, Bridgeport schools Bassick, Harding and Bridgeport Central, use two officials on each game.

“I worry more about the safety of everyone at the game, especially officials,” said Carroll, in his 37th year as commissioner. “They (Bassick) were pretty receptive.”