‘A distressingly poor job of officiating’

By SIAC Media Relations
Updated: December 6, 2008

SIAC TUCKER, Ga. — After careful review of all information provided by the Tuskegee University department of athletics, by both video footage and still photography, the SIAC has determined that the league’s crew that worked the 2008 Turkey Day Classic (Tuskegee vs. Alabama State) did a distressingly poor job officiating the contest.

During the second to last play of the game Tuskegee’s quarterback, Jacary Atkinson, seemingly threw the game winning touchdown to Jonathan Lessa.

The back judge, Philip Harden, ruled that Lessa was out of bounds. Vincent Swift, Field Judge, huddled with Harden who reconfirmed that the call should stand as he ruled, which was that the player was out of bounds.

Dr. Moses Norman, Supervisor of Football Officials for the SIAC, stated “I have concluded my review of the complaint filed by the administration at Tuskegee University regarding the ruling by the Back Judge in the Turkey Day Football Classic on a play in the end zone near the end of the game.”

“The ruling by the official was that the player was out-of-bounds when he secured possession of the football, thus negating what appeared to be a touchdown.”

“My review included separate conferences with the referee, the field judge, and the back judge, as well; as with the neutral site observer at the game. Additionally, I reviewed the still-life photo of the play sent to me and the DVD clip provided by Stacy Danley II, Athletic Director at Tuskegee.”

“My conclusion is that the ruling by the back judge was in error because visual evidence available to me contradicts his explanation regarding the player being out-of-bounds when he secured possession of the football. Thus, the play should have resulted in a touchdown for Tuskegee. Certainly, this was a game-changing ruling by the back judge.”

George Mategakis, SIAC Interim Commissioner, stated “We expect complete honesty from our officials at all times. Anything else is simply unacceptable. Our supervisor of football officials, Dr. Norman spends a considerable amount of time making sure our officials approach each game with the upmost importance and significance.”

“To miss a call like this will not be tolerated. The balance and result of a sporting contest should not be decided by officials, instead it should be decided by the players.”

The SIAC has responded by suspending, permanently, the services of Philip Harden as an official for any future SIAC football contests, starting with the 2009-2010 season.

Mategakis also added “we have very high expectations of all our officials and we expect them to call a fair game every time they step on to the field. We in no way expect or think that our teams should win every single game they play when facing out of conference competition, but we certainly expect a fair and just approach every single time”.