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About the NCAA Baseball Umpire Program
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ABOUT

In the summer of 2014, following the retirement of Gene McArtor, a new National Coordinator, George M. Drouches was hired. In addition, after serving  twelve years as NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor, Jim Paronto will be replaced by Randy Bruns at the end of the 2015 season.  In the fall of 2014, Don Umland was hired as the new Division III National Umpire Coordinator. 

MISSION STATEMENT

To identify, train, and evaluate umpires for assignment to NCAA Division I regional and super regional tournaments and the College World Series; to improve the overall quality and consistency of officiating throughout college baseball; to promote better communication between umpires, coaches, conferences and the NCAA; and to provide consistency in the interpretation of NCAA Baseball Rules and umpiring mechanics.

PROGRAM HISTORY

In 1990 the NCAA Division I baseball committee created an Umpire Improvement Program (UIP) for baseball. Jon Bible was selected as the first national coordinator of umpires and held the position until August of 1996. The structure of the initial program was a national coordinator and eight regional evaluators that assisted in the evaluation and assignment process. The program goals were to improve the level of officiating during the championship, standardize rule interpretations and umpire mechanics across the country and assist in identifying and selecting umpires for the Division I championship. Jon and Bill Thurston, NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor, began the one day umpire clinics across the country, not only explaining the UIP program, but rule changes, points of emphasis, and troublesome rules. Prior to the establishment of the UIP program, championship umpires were selected and assigned by the Division I baseball committee made up primarily of coaches. This procedure was not the most effective method to select officials for the national championship. After implementation of the UIP program, the assignments were initially made by the national coordinator and his evaluators and approved by the baseball committee. During this time and through 1999, umpire assignments for the championship were made during the annual fall meeting of the baseball committee. This timing was due to 1) very few, if any, conferences maintained a staff of umpires, had a coordinator of umpires, or had a process in which in-season evaluations could be conducted and 2) due to the time requirements of the championship, it was felt that umpires needed to know their assignments in advance in order to schedule the time. Since 1997 the assignments made were tentative and not confirmed until April.

In the fall of 1996, Jon Bible resigned as the national coordinator and a significant restructuring of the UIP took place. Dave Yeast became the national coordinator and a group of four regional evaluators was put in place. Since more conferences were organizing staffs of baseball officials, a line of communication was needed between the NCAA and the conferences. A liaison was appointed for each of the 29 Division I conferences, thus expanding the number of persons evaluating and recommending umpires from 9 to 34. An in-season evaluation process was developed to increase the documented assessment of umpires.

In 1998, the NCAA guidebook was created that outlines the program policies and procedures and is distributed to every umpire in the program and all conferences. In 2000, the NCAA championships cabinet adopted a policy prohibiting the redlining of umpires. In 2000, the NCAA made significant changes to the assigning process. These included 1) each Division I conference selected their own liaison to the NCAA and 2) each conference was asked to submit a list of umpires to be considered for assignment  based on in-season evaluations. The national coordinator and regional advisors reviewed these recommendations and made selections in early May. In 2001, the championships cabinet clarified the red lining policy by indicating that the prohibition applied to conference and non conference games. In addition, in 2001, the regional evaluator positions were eliminated.

In 2003, the baseball committee voted not to assign any umpire conference coordinator to any round of the Division I championship to begin in 2006. In 2004, the UIP initiated the first NCAA development camps. Each Division I conference was provided the opportunity to invite umpires to participate. These camps were eliminated in 2007 due to budgetary restraints.  In 2005, the championships cabinet mandated that conferences oversee the assigning of non-conference umpires. Also, in 2005 the NCAA Division II and Division III baseball committees selected their first coordinators of umpires, Asa Howard for DII and George Drouches for DIII.  The UIP initiated the on-line rules test in 2005 and, in 2006, the successful completion of the test was added as a requirement to umpire in the baseball championships. For the 2006 season, the NCAA added baseball umpires to the sports requiring registration for a background check and successful passing it if selected as a requirement for championship assignment. In the fall of 2006, three regional advisors were hired to assist with in-season evaluation and post season selection and assignment to the baseball championships

In the summer of 2008, following the resignation of Dave Yeast, a new national coordinator, Gene McArtor, was hired. In the fall of 2008, the number of regional advisors was increased to four. In addition a new position, director of umpires, was hired to assist in the mechanics and overall educational process for umpires.  In 2009 the NCAA began the two year cycle for rules.

 In the 2010 season, background check processes were expanded and enhanced.  In addition, www.NCAAbaseball.ArbiterSports.com  was designated by the NCAA as the official website manager for NCAA baseball.  This website requires a registration fee for Division I umpires to be eligible to work the championship and includes the testing and background check information for selection eligibility. In addition, the website allowed for national oversight of all ejection and suspension reports. In 2010, for the first time, College World Series umpires were not selected to work a super regional. In the fall of 2010 Dan Weikle was selected as the new DII national Coordinator.  

In the 2011 season K-Zone was used for the first time at the CWS and limited use of instant replay was approved and in effect beginning with the 2012 CWS.  The usage of the NCAA website has been expanded to include assignment notifications to umpires and championship payments have been handled by RefPay. The online rule book has had rule interpretations added. Video questions have been added to the testing process. In the summer of 2012, the Baseball Committee approved a change in the name of the program to Baseball Umpire Program and Tom Hiler’s title was changed to Director of Umpire Training. The 2013 Preseason test increased the passing grade to 85%. Beginning in the fall of 2013, Mark Ditsworth has replaced the retired Dick Runchey as a regional advisor.

September 2013

In 2015, for the first time, Instant Replay came to the Super Regionals.

At a  Centralized Location, the Instant Replay personnel reviewed plays such as deciding if a batted ball is fair or foul-beyond the first or third baseman,  deciding if a homerun was fair or foul; catch or no catch in the outfield, or spectator interference involving any these reviewable plays.

There were 5 plays reviewed in the 2015 Super Regionals -- all 5 plays were confirmed by the Instant Replay personnel.

October 2015

In December, 2015- Two Baseball Regional Advisors were hired to assist with in-season evaluations and post-season selection and assignment to the baseball Championships: Bill McCallum, Danvers, Massachusetts, Bill will be replacing Tony Gisondi (Tony Gisondi resigned during the 2014-15 academic year) as Northeast Regional Advisor;  and Jim Jackson of Jasper, Georgia as Southeast Regional Advisor: Jim will also evaluate umpires from the Northeast Region of the country when they umpire in the Southeast Region.


Centralized Location Instant Replay came to the CWS in 2016; there was 1 play reviewed, and the call was overturned by the Instant Replay personnel.

In November, 2016, Scott Erby, Franklin, Tennessee,  was hired  as a Regional Advisor, replacing Ron Sebastian, who retired after serving 10 years in the Baseball Umpire Program. In addition, Scott Taylor, Indianapolis, Indiana,  was hired as the new Division II National Coordinator.                                                                                         

 
 
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