Tell 'em, Bluths:
As if college lacrosse wasn't already on a sideways trajectory, this bit of information came out this past weekend: The Collegiate Officials Committee is boycotting fall events -- games, practices, whatever the hell else referees show up for during the fall period -- until they can come to an agreement with the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. Here's what's happening:
The negotiations between the COC (Collegiate Officials Committee) and the USILA (United State Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association) appear to have hit a snag. The contract between the organizations in regard to providing officiating services for Division I USILA games (including not only next spring's games but fall ball scrimmages and alumni games as well) expired at the end of June.
There were apparently lengthy negotiations over a new contract, with an agreement finally hammered out in early July by COC and USILA representatives. However, although the COC's Executive Board approved the arrangement on July 10, the USILA's board met on September 16 and rejected the deal.
As a result, the COC will not offer officiating services until a new contract is in place. Games have already gone without the COC's services, and the heavy slate of upcoming fall ball games could be jeopardized.
Fantastic. Excuse me for a second while I smash my face against a desk until I lose consciousness, thereby forgetting that this ridiculous impasse actually exists at this point in the fall.
Chief among the financial concerns are referees' game fees, per diem and travel reimbursement (which are generally paid by the host site), but [USILA representative and Johns Hopkins athletic director Tom] Calder says there are other issues, as well.
“The USILA board's goal is to review how we deal with the COC on fee changes; we don't feel the process we're using is the best way to do business with officials,” Calder says. “We're going to look at other models, see how other organizations do things. Our goal is to get back to the COC with something on the table as soon as possible. My hope is by the middle of next week, we can come up with something and hopefully they'll agree to it. It's more than the fee and the travel per diem, though. There are additional stipulations — reporting progress on the evaluation of officials and officials' programs. That entails more communication.”
Terrific. Excuse me for a second while I siphon gasoline from a jerry can directly into my belly.
Just get this done. The fact that this wasn't completed over the summer is ridiculous. The specific aspects of the negotiations aren't even what make me want to light things on fire; they're reasonable, and far from stupid. Rather, it's that this was not cleared at every level -- on both sides -- before the fall period began; that's what makes this entire situation dumb. The USILA and COC aren't brokering a nuclear missile proliferation treaty; they're arguing about the provision of referees and have been doing so since late last year. This quote from Bob Russell, special counsel for the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association, hits the nail on the head:
“We're primarily concerned with the best interest of the coaches, the student-athletes and the integrity of the game, and I think this is a situation that can and needs to be resolved as soon as possible,” Russell says.
What a stupid freaking mess. I can't believe I'm writing about this in late-September. I don't even want to know that this situation exists.