Longtime NCAA Men’s Basketball referee from Syracuse says COVID-19 is bigger than hoops

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — This weekend the NCAA would find out which four teams would be playing for the Men’s Basketball Championship, but that’s been canceled like many other college championships.

Normally this time of year longtime NCAA Men’s Basketball referee Pat Driscoll would be working one of these Sweet 16 or Elite 8 games, but not this year.

Driscoll has been refereeing NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament games for 19 years now, including four Final Fours and the 2015 National Championship game.

About sitting home now and not officiating he tells NewsChannel 9, “It’s surreal. I think a lot of college basketball officials, would share the same sentiment, but like we spoke before, this is bigger than basketball.”

It all started for Driscoll while sitting in Madison Square Garden two weeks ago, by this point family only allowed to watch these Big East Tournament games as the coronavirus was really starting to grow.

Driscoll was scheduled to ref the last game of the night at MSG and was there watching St.John’s taking on Creighton.

“Then seeing a lot of empty seats, I think was a pretty clear signal that this is the real deal and there’s some things that are going to happen here,” he says.

As the two teams were going into the locker room for halftime, following many other conferences, the Big East announced at that point, mid-game, the tournament was canceled.

That was the end of the season for players, coaches, and referees across the nation.

On what was to be the first day of the NCAA Tournament Driscoll spent time volunteering at the Food Bank of Central New York.

“I don’t want to come across as if I’m patting myself on the back, at the same time to be able to do something on the first day of the tournament just shows there’s a need greater right now than a college basketball game.”

Driscoll also tells NewsChannel 9 another sobering point of the COVID-19 pandemic is that he knows some college basketball referees who have tested positive for this virus.

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On March 12, 2020, the NCAA canceled its 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament.  Consequently, and as provided for in the Station’s Basketball Madness Official Rules and due to circumstances beyond the control of the Station (and Nexstar Media Group, Inc.), both the national and local market Basketball Madness Bracket Challenge contests have been canceled. No new entries will be accepted and any previously submitted entries will be deleted within five (5) business days.

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