Head NCAA Referee Explains Bizarre Ending of Butler-Pittsburgh Game

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It was the most talked about college basketball game of the weekend; and not just because it featured a big upset. it had one of the weirdest endings to march madness that we’ve seen in awhile.

Minutes after the ending of No. 8-seeded Butler’s bizarre, 71-70, win over No.1-seeded Pittsburgh in the Southeast Region’s third round game, both the Atlanta (Matt Winer, Steve Smith, Seth Davis and Phil Martelli) and New York (Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Rick Pitino) NCAA Tournament studio shows aired interviews with John Adams, National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating.

Atlanta

On the crucial calls between Butler and Pittsburgh at the end of the game:

ADAMS: I’ve had a chance to look at the plays (in the final seconds of Butler-Pitt game) as many times as you guys have probably, they were both fouls.  They tie in to two things we’ve been working on all year. We have a single point of emphasis, we enforce the rules as written, and every coach I’ve ever talked to says, ‘A foul is a foul.’  These are fouls and if you don’t call them, you penalize the other team. I would feel just as bad for Pittsburgh as I would for Butler and vice versa. I’m a fan just like you guys are and while you would like to have a game end on a wide open three that somebody makes as time expires, that’s not what happens in our game.

On players deciding the game:

DAVIS: It’s kind of a misnomer when people say, ‘Let the players decide the game.’ The players did decide the game.  They fouled.

On the notion that the referees decided the end of the Butler-Pittsburgh game:

MARTELLI: The players decided this game by mistakes. It’s mental. They’re kids. Two kids made mistakes. That’s all that happened.

New York

JOHNSON: Let’s talk about these calls at the end of the Butler-Pittsburgh game.  We’ll start with the one that sent Pittsburgh to the line.  Any issue on that?

ADAMS: That’s a foul, Ernie.  Clearly contact by the defensive player, illegal contact.  If you don’t call it you penalize Pittsburgh.

JOHNSON: Now on the second one, the one that all Pitt Panther fans are wondering, ‘How do you make that call with that time on the clock, in that situation?’  I guess I’m saying what I think fans there are saying.  How do you stand on that?

ADAMS: Well, I’ll go back to our original premise that we started the year with, we have one point of emphasis – it’s enforce the rules as written.  Part of that is, a foul is a foul.  I don’t think anybody would argue that that was not a foul, especially if it happens in the first minute of the game.  That is a foul and you penalize the other team if you don’t call that foul.

JOHNSON: So your message to Pittsburgh fans would be?

ADAMS: Don’t foul with hardly any time left on the clock.

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