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OSAA green-lights officiating expansion

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Executive Board has approved the use of three-person officiating crews for the 6A, 5A and 4A basketball playoffs beginning in 2017.

The expansion will take effect with this season’s early round playoff games, and will continue through the state championship games at the finals’ neutral sites.

Schools and leagues in all classifications will continue to have the option of using either three- or two-person crews during the regular season. This option was allowed, for the first time, during the 2015-16 season with nine of 38 leagues choosing to use three-person crews.

“Cooperation between the 17 local associations and OSAA member schools and leagues made the first year a positive one and we are excited to move forward,” said Cindy Simmons, OSAA assistant executive director in charge of basketball. “A strong commitment to training at the local association level has been a key to the success along with the financial commitment from schools and the OSAA Executive Board in adding an official. The vast majority of state high school associations in the country are using three-person crews during the regular and postseason and we’re looking forward to joining them.”

Forest Grove’s conference, the Greater Valley Conference, last year chose not to assign three officials to the varsity games, but will likely revisit their decision in the wake of the OSAA’s recent decision.

“Our conference’s two biggest concerns is first the cost of the extra official at the varsity level ... and second is the decreasing number of officials in all the associations that our conference uses,” said Doug Thompson, athletic director and assistant principal at Forest Grove High School. “We are afraid one of the three officials may not be ready for the varsity level or it is going to force officials to do a JV game at 5:45 and then turn around and do a varsity game at 7:15.”

However, Thompson added, “if going to three person team keeps some of our quality officials from retiring, that may help the pool and quality that we retain in the state. Time will tell.”

At the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, information will be gathered from schools at all classification levels and a review of the effects of using an additional official will be conducted.