System for assigning Eastern Maine basketball officials should return to original process

Editor’s note: Bob Cimbollek has three age discrimination and two retaliation lawsuits pending against the Eastern Maine Board (111) of Approved Basketball Officials.

Prior to 1977, high schools hired officials for basketball games and could hire officials for no more than four home games.

That original officials assignment program was agreed upon by Board 111 and the 33 schools in their Eastern Maine area.

The program had schools list 15 officials and rated them a 1, 2 or a 3. Schools had to list a minimum of five 1’s and five 2’s.The assignor had to take officials off each team’s list and assign them to a game. An official rated at 1 could work with a 1, 2 or 3. Those ranked at 2 could work with a 1, 2 or 3 and those ranked at 3 could work with a 1 or a 2 but not with another 3.

Teams could also list a 7 for an official that they would take on the road but not at home and then could work with a 1, 2, or 3 for the other official.

Board 111 made 10 changes without schools approval over the next 25 years. The original program agreement stated no changes could be made unless both parties agreed. The schools protested the changes but to no avail and once Board 111 made the first change without the schools approval, they continued to make additional changes as  the schools chose not to fight the changes.

1. In 1980, the board changed the lists to an order of preference of 20 officials listed by the schools.

2. The next year, the board changed to a list of 25 officials in alphabetical order without any priority listed.

3. In 1984, the board took the lists away from the schools.

4. In 1984, the board also went to a rating system as the major guide to assigning varsity games. This rating system was invalid because officials were supposed to rate only officials they worked with or saw work during the season. There was no accountability for those who rated officials without following those criteria.

Of this system, 30 percent of it was ratings from the officials and ratings from the schools, 15 percent each. Schools could list five officials they didn’t want.

5. In 1988, the schools rating percentage was dropped to one-third and officials went to two-thirds.

6. In 2002, the board took away the schools one-third rating.

7. In 2003, the board took away the negative votes from the schools.

8., 9. 10. The board  later raised  assignment fees three different times without negotiating with the schools or without the schools approval.

These changes were for the benefit for officials not for the schools and may not have been made if more athletic directors would have fought to prevent the changes.

Recently,  the schools were allowed to list officials  they did not want and returned to input from the rating system of 15 percent from schools and 15 percent from officials.

The schools should have also been allowed to get the list of 25-plus officials they would accept  to work their home and away games, plus officials they would accept on the road because of travel costs.

Positive, not negative, lists are always better. The 25-plus travel list would be positive for both  and also would give both back the accountability both had when they had the lists.

How do I know so much about the assignment program? I wrote the first assignment program for Board 111 and the schools in 1976-77 and was the first assignor in 1977-78. It was the first assignment program for officials in the state in any sport.

The assignment  program was written so  it would not have to deal with the problems the schools and officials have encountered since 1984 when the schools lost their positive lists.

I have been a member of Board 111 for 45 years, its past president and a past member of the executive committee and have kept up with the board as a coach, athletic director and official over the past 55 years.