Pac-10 Suspends Officials for 1 Game


Monday, September 18th 2006, 9:55 pm
By: News On 6


NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The Pacific-10 Conference, finding merit in Oklahoma's complaints about the officiating in its loss to Oregon, issued a one-game suspension Monday to the officiating crew and the instant replay officials who worked the game and an apology to the Sooners.

The Ducks won the game 34-33 after scoring two touchdowns in the final 72 seconds.

``Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops and his players,'' Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said in a statement. ``They played an outstanding college football game, as did Oregon, and it is regrettable that the outcome of the contest was affected by the officiating.''

After the Sooners' practice Monday night, Stoops said the apology brought him no satisfaction.

``At least they have reacted to it and tried. Truly there can be no amends to it and it can't be corrected,'' Stoops said.

The loss was Oklahoma's first of the season and immediately lessens the Sooners' chances of making it to a third BCS title game in four years.

``I've made a million mistakes. I'll make a million more in each game, and in that game included, I wish there were things I could have done differently or changed,'' Stoops said. ``Unlike officials, players and coaches don't have that opportunity. They had an opportunity to get it right and they chose not to. So I find it still absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable.

Two plays were reviewed on Oregon's game-winning drive _ an onside kick that gave the Ducks possession and a pass interference call one play before Oregon's winning touchdown.

Hansen said the onside kick was touched by an Oregon player before it had traveled the required 10 yards, and, therefore, the ball should have been awarded to Oklahoma. The video also shows an Oklahoma player actually recovered the ball, although that aspect of the play was not reviewable under the instant replay rule.

``The fact that the errors on the onside kick altered the outcome of the game is most unfortunate and unsettling,'' Hansen said. ``We had a solid veteran crew assigned, and the instant replay official had a fine career as a referee in the Pac-10.

``We believe in the ability and integrity of each individual involved. It should be noted that not all of the seven officials were directly involved in the play in question, but the entire crew bears responsibility for every play. Game officials and replay officials have positions of great responsibility and must be accountable for their actions.''

Stoops has also said he believes Oklahoma defensive end C.J. Ah You tipped a pass by Dennis Dixon that resulted in a pass interference penalty. If the ball was indeed tipped, the pass interference penalty would have been negated.

The replay officials ruled that they didn't have indisputable video evidence that the ball had been tipped.

Hansen said that the future work of the officials who were suspended will be closely monitored.

``The training and experience of officials at this level enable them to work at a high degree of accuracy,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, at the critical moment of this game, errors were made.''

University of Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter Monday to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, saying the officiating problems was beyond an ``outrageous injustice,'' and asking him to pursue having the game eliminated from the record books and having the officials involved in the game suspended for the remainder of the season.

Weiberg responded with a statement saying the result of the game would stand.

``There is no provision under NCAA or conference rules for a game result to be reversed or changed as a result of officiating errors, nor do I believe there should be,'' he said.

Boren also asked for a Pac-10 apology and called for the conference to change its policy that requires only Pac-10 officials be used for nonconference home games.'

``This policy is well known nationally and institutions, including OU, know this to be the case at the time of entering into contracts to play Pac-10 opponents,'' Weiberg said.

Boren, in a statement issued after the conference statements, expressed appreciation for the Pac-10's actions.

``I hope this will lead to further national review of the responsibilities of replay officials and the way in which they interact with game officials on the field,'' Boren said. ``I also hope this situation will lead the Pac-10 to change their policy of requiring that only officials of the Pac-10 officiate the home games of Pac-10 universities when they are hosting a non-conference opponent.''