Referee shortage forces Minnesota high schools to reschedule basketball games

January 15, 2019 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
A shortage of referees forced some Minnesota high schools to reschedule their basketball games on Monday.

Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The Minnehaha Academy athletics department on Monday morning announced via Twitter that Tuesday’s boys and girls games between Blake and Minnehaha Academy were moved up one day to Monday evening, a result of a referee shortage in the Minneapolis area. According to KBJR 6, all six schools in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference moved this week’s Tuesday games to a different night, depending on when officials would be available.

Minnesota is just one of more than a dozen states that have expressed concern in the last year over the sharp decline in registered high school officials. Last fall, Minnesota Public Radio reported that the number of officials for youth games had declined by 500 in the previous seven years.

Regardless of Monday’s rescheduling, state athletic association leaders refrained from using the word “shortage.”

From KBJR 6:

Jason Nickleby, coordinator of officials for the Minnesota State High School League, stops short of calling the current situation a ref shortage.

“I’d be more concerned if we were rescheduling games for the rest of the season,” he said.

That said, Nickleby added, “I would say generally speaking we always want more.”

Nickleby said injuries, a packed conference schedule, and the move from two to three refs for varsity basketball games has caused a temporary squeeze.

New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri and Tennessee are just a handful of other states that have expressed concern over the decline in referees. Some have invested in new recruiting efforts, and others (like Texas) have increased their pay to combat the issue.

Read more from KBJR 6.

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