Jul 26, 2019

SEC POLICY OF HIDING GAME OFFICIAL IDENTITIES NEEDS FIXING

Thanks to the rapid legalization of sports wagering across the United States in recent months, legally betting on college football is about to become a way a life for millions of Americans.

David Smith: Former Starting Alabama Quarterback Is SEC Conference Referee

Because no major college football player is financially compensated nor provided guaranteed healthcare in writing, the sport has always been extremely vulnerable to game fixing. Not to mention the fact that the most popular college football league, the Southeastern Conference, has long practiced a deliberate policy of hiding the identities of game officials.

With sports gambling gone mainstream thanks to FS1 staple Lock It In and ESPN’s Daily Wager, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the SEC to provide a modicum of transparency when it comes to the recognition of exactly who is officiating league football games.

But as the 2019 season approaches, the identities of SEC game officials remain completely unknown to the public and media.

Following the 2018 SEC football season, longtime SEC referee Matt Austin retired from his on-field duties with the league to take a job as an on-air rules expert with ESPN’s SEC Network.

SEC Coordinator of Football Officials and University of Alabama alumnus Steve Shaw then filled Austin’s high-profile, senior referee slot for the 2019 season with David Smith, a former starting quarterback at the University of Alabama.

Smith is one of two former Alabama football players who now serve on SEC officiating crews. The other is Umpire Brent Sowell

After the Smith promotion, Shaw then reached out to another fellow University of Alabama alumnus, Steve Marlowe, to take over the vacated referee spot on Smith’s Southeastern Conference officiating crew.

Steve Marlowe: University of Alabama Alumnus is Southeastern Conference Referee

Before sports gambling was made legal across the United States, perhaps the Southeastern Conference’s policy of not disclosing the school and conference football program affiliation of league game officials – let alone the basic identities of said officials – was somewhat understandable. 

But with – for the first time ever – millions of dollars about to be legally wagered on SEC football games, the time has come for the Southeastern Conference to provide full transparency as it pertains to exactly who is officiating league games.

Follow Brooks Melchior on Twitter at @SportsbyBrooks.