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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — J.D. Collins has one goal as the NCAA's coordinator of men's basketball officials: Get it right.
A few hours after Tuesday's announcement of his new job, Collins told The Associated Press he expects referees to enforce the rules correctly, consistently and efficiently — and that he plans to advocate for refs taking as much time as they need to review late-game replays.
"If you get a play two minutes into the game, it shouldn't take as long (to review)," Collins said, "whereas if you're in a conference tournament game and there's two minutes left, we want to take the extra time to get it right."
Collins replaces John Adams, who announced last summer he would retire at the end of the season.
After seven mostly good years on the job, Adams' tenure ended with a mismanaged replay review in Duke's win over Wisconsin in the national championship game. A replay that aired during the CBS telecast appeared to show a Duke player touched the ball last when Badgers guard Bronson Koenig missed a layup with 1:54 to play and Duke leading 63-58.
Officials never saw the CBS replay because they had already decided to uphold the original decision that the ball went off Wisconsin.
Adams said in a radio interview after the game that the three-man officiating crew and the standby official did not have access to the same views as the television audience. NCAA vice president of men's basketball Dan Gavitt said Adams "misspoke" and that referees did have access to all TV replays. A spokesman for DVSport, the NCAA's new replay partner, acknowledged the referees could have watched all of CBS' replays, just not in time to make the most definitive angle available before the call.
Collins said he has not yet spoken with Adams since taking the job late last week and doesn't plan to relive that moment.
"That's in the past, and the NCAA and Danny have hired me for the future," he said. "There are definitely lessons to be learned, garnered from it. I personally don't see the value of covering that base again, so I'll move forward."
Collins spent two decades calling games as an official in seven different leagues, working two Final Fours and seven regional semifinals before an injury forced him into an administrative role.
Most recently, he worked as coordinator of officials for the Mid-American Conference and Summit League, as a consultant to the Big Ten and as commissioner of the NAIA's Crossroads League. He will step down from all those duties this month.
The experiences have taught Collins how to work with conference commissioners, athletic directors, university presidents and faculty athletic representatives, and those who have worked with him believe he has the traits to create unity.
"He's an excellent listener," Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple said before explaining how Collins handled bad calls. "It doesn't necessarily have to be the call at the end of the game, but there's a review process he's established for us. He'll look at the tape, and he and I will get together and look at it. If they miss a call, he will say they missed a call, but he uses that as a learning tool for the official so it doesn't happen later."
And though this is Collins' dream job, it comes at a time college basketball continues to wrestle with how to increase scoring, shorten games and still give refs enough time to correctly interpret replays.
Collins believes he can accomplish those goals if the rules committee, which meets next week, helps simplify things for refs. He plans to use technology to help refs better understand rules, expectations and how coaches think, too.
"I think we can send out repetitive (video) messages to the coaches to the refs, that unless the ref is ignoring those, we can get those messages out," he said. "It works. Any time I have the ability to communicate with officials, that message is going to be coming through."
Collins does not intend to publicly scold officials for making the wrong calls, though he explained he would not be shy about privately reprimanding them or explaining where they can improve.
"I can tell you I will have a major focus on the mechanics of the game, where officials are on specific plays," Collins said. "I don't think we can overemphasize that enough because we are creatures of habit and we have to be in the right spots to make calls. The bottom line is call accuracy is a key component to getting the game right."
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